Giraffe Calf Welcomed Back into Safari Park Herd

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ken Bohn
    A 3-month-old Ugandan giraffe, Leroy, is let into the East Africa exhibit. Photo taken on April 14, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

    After a brush with death and a three-month separation, a young giraffe received a warm welcome back into the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s herd.

    In January, Ugandan giraffe “Leroy” came down with a severe bacterial infection when he was just two weeks old. Zookeepers noticed the little guy was not as rambunctious and was not eating well, so he was transferred to the park’s veterinary hospital.

    There, veterinarians believed his chances of survival were slim.

    The animal care team bottle-fed the not-so-little calf three to five times a day and monitored him around the clock.

    That, on top of a month of antibiotics and IV fluids, worked its wonders. Leroy made a full recovery.

    After 39 days in the hospital, he was released into a restricted area of the East Africa field exhibit, where zookeepers could continue to bottle-feed him. Slowly, he was reintroduced to his habitat and herd.

    Finally, on Monday, Leroy reconnected to his mother and other giraffes with lots of sniffing, nose-rubbing and playful behavior, park officials said.

    According to the zoo, the Ugandan giraffe is the only subspecies that is endangered, with less than 700 remaining in the wild of Kenya and Uganda.

    Thirteen Ugandan giraffes – five males and eight females – call the safari park home.

    Officials said the goal of the zoo is to bring species like this back from the brink of extinction with field programs spanning six continents.