Baby giraffe newest addition at Brookfield Zoo

November 21, 2012 (BROOKFIELD, Ill.)

Born just nine days ago at Brookfield Zoo, this baby giraffe was off exhibit but now is welcoming visitors at Habitat Africa. He is exactly what his mother ordered, a giant newborn.

"He's 6-feet tall and weighs about 140 pounds at birth," said Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals at the zoo. "He's a big baby."

This is an unusual situation because there are now three generations of here at Brookfield. The baby, of course, which has yet to be named. His mother, "Arnieta," and his grandmother.

"I'd say it's pretty rare to have three generations all in one," said Christina Gorsuch, lead keeper at Habitat Africa. "'Franny' is 21 years old, which is pretty old for a giraffe ... Mom is 5, born in 2007, and then baby is nine days old. Our baby boy."

The squared-off patches of brown, by the way, differentiate the many different types of giraffes. The patches also provide great camouflage.

But one thing a giraffe can't camouflage is it's personality. They are like big, long-necked puppies.

You have to realize that they come from a very tough part of the world. The land of lions. But still, they're so gentle.

"They are prey animals by nature so they generally are more cautious," said Gorsuch. "But because they are so tall with their size they can pretty much see a predator coming from miles away. So they don't have to be as skittish and afraid as a typical small animal would be."

Six-feet tall and 140 pound, but this is just the beginning.

"It will take about seven years for him to fully mature, and he'll be about 19 feet tall and weigh about 2,000 pounds when full-grown," Daniels said.

He will live at Brookfield for two years and then be off to another zoo and his first girlfriend.

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