NORFOLK, Va. (WRIC) — Visitors to the Virginia Zoo recently got to experience something unexpected — the birth of a new giraffe calf right in front of them.
On Friday, Sept. 9, Imara, one of the zoo’s Masai giraffes, gave birth to her ninth calf. The birth was unique from the beginning — it happened in the giraffe barn and visitors were able to experience the birth alongside zoo staff.
Because of both her birthday and the number of Imara’s births, the baby was named Tisa, which means nine in Swahili.
According to zoo staff, Tisa weighed 122.5 pounds at birth and stood 6 feet tall. Zoo giraffe keepers said that Tisa quickly stood up after birth and began nursing, which giraffe calves normally do about 30 minutes after being born, according to National Geographic. Zoo staff also said she is already learning how to run.
To celebrate Tisa’s arrival, the Zoo is offering a digital “Zoodoption” special to symbolically “adopt” Tisa until Sept. 30. Anyone who purchases the adoption offer will be entered to win a behind-the-scenes giraffe tour.
Masai giraffes, which are native to eastern Zambia, are currently listed as endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. The Zoodoption program goes towards giraffe conservation efforts as well as animal care at the zoo.
You can see a full video of Tisa’s first moments after birth on the Virginia Zoo’s Facebook page.
The Virginia Zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 3500 Grandby Street in Norfolk.