Surprise! Giraffe born after birth control fails

DENVER, CO (KTRK) -- A giraffe has been born! No, April the giraffe from all of those Facebook lives still hasn't given birth, but another giraffe has made it look easy.

The Denver Zoo's baby giraffe was born to mother Kipele (pronounced kih-PAY-lay) at 3 am Feb. 28, measuring 5-feet-tall and weighing 73 pounds. Both mother and baby are on the smaller side for the world's tallest land mammal, according to zoo officials.

Baby giraffe Dobby is standing tall at the Denver Zoo after a surprise pregnancy and low-key early morning birth on Feb. 28, zoo officials said.

Dobby was a surprise to zoo officials, and not simply because, at 23 years old, Kipele is the oldest of the zoo's giraffes. In fact, mother Kipele was using birth control at the time of her impregnation, and resisted initial attempts for veterinarians to perform ultrasounds.

"Staff was monitoring Kipele overnight when she went into labor," said Brian Aucone, Denver Zoo senior vice president for Animal Care and Conservation, in a press statement. "Although the birth went well, the calf was not initially nursing. Staff fed the infant and provided critical care in his first hours of life to get him back on track. Now he's nursing and we are feeling good about his health."

Regardless of public interest, mother and baby will continue resting and bonding in the zoo's giraffe building and are not on public view.

"The building will remain closed during their first days together to provide them peace and quiet," the zoo said.

Dobby is the first giraffe born at the Denver Zoo since October 2010, and is the offspring of Kipele and father Dikembe. Kipele was born at Denver Zoo in August 1993, while Dikembe was born at Colorado Springs' Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in December 1993 and came to Denver in February 1996. Along with adult females Masika and Heshimu, Dobby brings the zoo's giraffe herd to five, officials said.

"Dobby may not have been a planned birth, but now that he's here, we're excited to have him and look forward to him engaging with our guests," Aucone said.

Giraffe pregnancies last a whopping 15 months, and calves typically nurse for about six months, after which zoo officials will wean Dobby off his mother's milk. Giraffes usually double in height during their first two years, reaching an average height of 12 feet, zoo officials said.

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