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Louisville Zoo grieves stillborn giraffe, monitoring mother

The mother, Kianga, gave birth at 2:52 p.m. Wednesday after 2.5 hours of active labor.
Credit: Louisville Zoo
Kianga the Masai Giraffe

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Zoo is not only mourning the loss of the Harbor seal pup Emmy, but are now grieving the stillbirth of the baby Masai Giraffe.

The mother, Kianga, gave birth at 2:52 p.m. Wednesday after 2.5 hours of active labor according to a press release.

Zoo staff closely watched Kianga during this time through a closed-circuit TV so they wouldn't disturb her.

“In these situations, our first priority is the health and welfare of the mom,” said Dr. Zoli Gyimesi, the Zoo’s senior veterinarian. “Kianga is a first-time mother, so we wanted to provide a quiet space where she could birth the calf as naturally as possible, without disruption.”

Kianga immediately started showing maternal instincts to the stillborn and showed no signs of distress. Keepers plan to monitor her closely according to the release.

Louisville Zoo Director Dan Maloney said the keepers are devastated.

“To spend 15 months caring for an expectant mom, marking her progress, working in anticipation for that day, it’s just so heartbreaking when a birth doesn’t go as planned, even though we recognize there are risks for any pregnancy," Maloney said. "Right now, we will console our teams, grieve for Kianga, and hopefully gain insights for the next giraffe birth.”

The birth was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for Masai giraffes.

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