'A firecracker already': Cheyenne Mountain Zoo baby girl giraffe thriving

Photo: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Just 2 days old, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's newest addition is already a little firecracker.

"We were all like, 'Holy moly!' She stood in 35 or 37 minutes, which is the fastest that we have ever seen a giraffe calf stand up," said senior lead animal keeper Amy Schilz. "The first time she stood she had it down, so she was walking around. She’s also been climbing over the top of her mom when her mom is sleeping."

The calf was born at 1:20 Saturday afternoon before an audience of thousands worldwide watching via live stream. She's already handling her fame like a pro.

"She's great with guests," Schilz said.

And as long as mom and baby continue to thrive post-birth, her fans will be allowed to visit in quiet, managed groups.

The zoo announced Msitu was in labor approximately two hours before she gave birth. The zoo said of the labor process:

"Our first indication that labor was starting was the calf's two front hooves emerging from mom. Sometime after that, we should see the calf's nose/head. The back hooves will usually be the last thing to emerge, with the calf dropping approximately 6 feet to the ground onto 6 inches of sand, naturally severing the umbilical cord and stimulating baby's first breath. After that, mom will encourage the calf to stand up within about an hour or two after birth, which can sometimes look like she's nudging or kicking the baby."

The full video of the labor and birth can be seen below. Fast forward to about 1:16:00 to see the birth and 1:52:00 to see the baby's first steps!

The bouncing baby girl came into the world standing a whopping 6 feet tall and weighing somewhere between 150-200 pounds. Her height is on the tall end for a calf -- calves are generally born 5 and 6 feet tall.

"She looks to be doing really great. She seems like a super strong calf. She’s nursing really frequently. She’s been laying up and down. Those are two big things we watch for," animal keeper Rachel Hahn said.

Following zoo tradition, the little one will receive her name after turning 30 days old.

"[We are] thinking of names that will be especially fitting since she is a firecracker already," Hahn said.

Msitu's pregnancy was announced in May. Her calf is the 201st born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

The zoo's 200th calf, Penny, was humanely euthanized at just a few months old due to suffering numerous health problems. The loss of Penny hit the zoo hard, making the birth Saturday especially poignant.

“Everybody is smiling ear to ear, just really really happy that it seemed to go so great," Schilz said.