A giraffe calf died during childbirth at the Santa Barbara Zoo Wednesday night.
Zoo staff say 14-year-old Masai giraffe Audrey went into labor around 5:15 p.m.
Veterinary staff were with her during her 6.5 hours of labor before they say it was apparent that the calf was stillborn.
Audrey reportedly spent time with her calf before walking away on her own and was able to join the rest of her herd within an hour, the zoo said, adding that she started eating and drinking around the same time, which is a “great sign for her continued health.”
“Our entire Zoo community will undoubtedly be heartbroken by this news,” the zoo said in a press release. “Unfortunately there are risks with any birth and there is always the possibility of a negative outcome. In this case, there was nothing that could have been done to save the calf. In fact, trying to intervene in the birth of such a large animal would pose an even bigger risk to Audrey.”
Audrey was expected to be back out in the giraffe habitat by late Thursday.
The zoo says it is important for her to remain social and active at this time and says her pain is being monitored.
In 2020, zoo staff had to euthanize a female calf of Audreys hours after birth after it began displaying “concerning complications."
This past January, a Masai giraffe calf named Raymie was born at the zoo to Adia, 7, marking the 11th birthday of a Masai giraffe at the zoo since 2012.
Adult male Masai giraffe Michael has sired all but one of the Masai giraffes born at the zoo since 2013 and is only related to his offspring. Because of that, he is said to be the most genetically important male Masai giraffe in North America.
The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Masai giraffe herd includes Michael, Adia, Raymie and Audrey.