THE YOUNGEST baby born in the Bratislava Zoo is a male Rothschild’s giraffe – it was born on January 18. However, the zoo officially presented him only in mid February, when it allowed the toddler to wander outside the heated quarters.

The young calf does not yet have a name, but visitors and animal lovers can vote for one through the zoobratislava.sk website. The zoo has proposed several names, including Jasper, Teodor and Tristan. “As for now, we have selected those of African origin and those that mean, when translated, ‘God’s gift’ or ‘The Beautiful’,” the zoo’s Jela Račevová told the TASR newswire.

The giraffe’s mother, Tejla (from the Ústí nad Labem zoo in the Czech Republic), has already given birth to seven calves. She lives in a space with her two daughters, Layla and Salome. The father, Jimmy (from a Czech zoo in Olomouc), has not fathered any other youths previously.

The new calf was born 180 centimetres tall and weighed somewhere between 45 and 70 kilograms (the keepers did not want to cause stress to him or his mother, and they have yet to properly weigh him). He is now about 2 metres tall and has grown accustomed to the keepers.

Young giraffes are born with their mothers standing and fall from a height of about two metres. “A giraffe cannot lie down during a birth, in order not to crush the newborn,” zoologist Martina Nemčeková explained. “The foetus is folded in the uterus, with the neck bent and the hind part narrower than the front part. The front legs slightly dampen the fall,” she added. Giraffes are said to sleep only 20 minutes a day, as their metabolism is slower and they are never in a hurry. Giraffes in the wild can reach 25 years of age, while in zoos they usually live up to 28.

The baby giraffe can be seen in an outdoor pen in the Bratislava zoo daily between 11:00 and 13:00. The public has until February 26 to vote for his name.