Tiny Baby Giraffe Makes His Very First Appearance At The Denver Zoo

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Kipele, an older giraffe at the Denver Zoo in Colorado, was believed to be past reproductive age. At 23 years old, she is middle-aged, right around the giraffe equivalent of menopause.

In fact, the Denver Post notes, “Kipele is the oldest of the zoo’s giraffes.” Zookeepers put her on birth control just in case, but they didn’t think she would need it.

Still, you know the expression, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” Apparently, it applies to giraffes too.

Tiny Baby Giraffe Makes His Very First Appearance At The Denver Zoo

Dobby the baby giraffe made his first public debut at the Denver Zoo on March 5, 2017, after completely stunning handlers and zookeepers with his unexpected birth.

Giraffe pregnancies last between 13 and 15 months, and his mom Kipele was believed to be too old to carry a baby.

For months, nobody realized that her birth control had failed and that Kipele was preparing to become a mom.

Shortly before she delivered, folks at the zoo noticed her belly and udders swelling and realized that, against all odds, Kipele was getting ready to deliver a miracle baby!

Sweet little Dobby was born in late February 2017. He weighed in at just 73 pounds, and measured 5 feet tall.

That might be the size of a human 5th grader, but it’s on the small side for an baby giraffe. They are usually more like 6 feet and 150 pounds.

Just one day after his surprise arrival, zoo staff realized that Dobby wasn’t thriving as much as they expected.

He seemed sluggish and sickly, and was having trouble standing and nursing. Most baby giraffes walk straight away.

Tiny Newborn Giraffe Makes His Very First Appearance At The Denver Zoo

They quickly realized Dobby’s problem. His immune system didn’t receive enough antibodies in utero, so he was having more trouble fighting off diseases.

Staff aren’t sure exactly why Dobby’s immune system was a bit underdeveloped. It might have to do with his mama’s relatively advanced age, or because he wasn’t monitored in the early stages of the pregnancy, because his mom kept her pregnancy secret up until about a week before the birth.

Zookeepers think it’s most likely because Kipele herself was under the weather for much of her pregnancy.

Fortunately, the Denver Zoo was able to spring into action.

Tiny Newborn Giraffe Makes His Very First Appearance At The Denver Zoo

An innovative program at the nearby Cheyenne Mountain Zoo came to the rescue. Giraffes there had been trained to voluntarily allow doctors to draw blood.

Thanks to the giraffes at Cheyenne, Denver Zoo was able to give little Dobby blood and plasma transfusions right away.

The donated plasma helped Dobby to build up his immune system, and his health improved fast!

Tiny Newborn Giraffe Makes His Very First Appearance At The Denver Zoo

Now, Dobby is feeling much happier and healthier, and is growing fast. In just his first week, he has gained 10 pounds!

And on March 6th, just one week after his surprise birth, the baby giraffe was ready for a major rite of passage.

He had his formal debut at the Denver Zoo, where 300 people turned out to see the baby giraffe in action!

Tiny Newborn Giraffe Makes His Very First Appearance At The Denver Zoo

Brave Dobby took a quick run around his enclosure to check out all the faces before getting overwhelmed and running back to Mom.

It’s not easy to be a celebrity when you’re just a week old, after all. Still, we have no doubt that Dobby will overcome his shyness in no time!

If you think Dobby is incredibly adorable, be sure to check out the video below and SHARE his amazing and unexpected story with friends and family!

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