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EFE News Service
Rare Giraffe Born At Puerto Rican Zoo
By Damarys Rivera Vega
May 1, 2002
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, May 1 (EFE).-A rare reticulated giraffe was born at the zoo in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, last weekend before the eyes of astonished visitors.
Zoo director Marisell Mora explained that a child told one of the guards that a female giraffe was giving birth.
Zoo personnel quickly told visitors what was going to happen, and the onlookers cooperated by keeping silent so the mother would not be distracted.
The team in charge of caring for the giraffe expected her to give birth in May, and it remains a mystery when conception occurred.
"They began mating when the male was three years old, and we observed them several times, but she did not conceive while we were watching. Nobody's sure of the exact date, only that it must have been at night when we weren't there," Mora said, smiling.
The zoo director added that the newborn measured 65 inches, weighed 125 pounds and was the first of its kind born in the Caribbean, placing Puerto Rico on a select list among the world's zoos.
"It is very rare for a female to be born. It is almost always a male. That's important because it's the females who have babies, and they are more expensive. They can cost as much as $40,000," the director said.
Mora told EFE that labor began a little after noon last Saturday and was prolonged because the mother does not expel the placenta for several hours after the birth.
According to Mora, a team of 15 people stayed with the giraffe and her newborn until midnight, when the new mother began to nurse her baby.
"Her name is Twiga, which means giraffe in the most commonly used African dialect. Her parents are Baxter and Princess, two first-time parents," Mora said.
These giraffes belong to the reticulated species, considered the world's most beautiful and costly, the zoo director explained, adding that the gestation period is 15 months if no complications occur.
Princess is a 6-year-old female who arrived at the zoo in 1998 together with her inseparable companion, Baxter, a 5-year-old male.
According to Mora, both were purchased in the United States.
Twiga was the second baby animal to be born at the Mayaguez zoo this year. An impala gave birth several months ago.
The zoo has also been home to baby tigers, camels and a baby jaguar.