With two giraffes due to be born within weeks at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, people now can keep an eye on the pregnant mothers with the zoo's birth camera, active online 24 hours a day.
The pregnant giraffes - 20-year-old Muziki and 10-year-old Laikipia - are due in late April or early May, "but just like humans, they can sometimes give birth earlier than anticipated," a zoo news release says. Their calves will be the 200th and 201st born at the zoo.
The camera shows the giraffes' birthing stall, "which has been prepared with about six inches of sand to cushion the fall when the babies are born," the release says. "Giraffe calves can fall nearly six feet when they're born."
The camera is expected to be most active between 4 p.m and 9 a.m., because the pregnant giraffes often stay with the rest of the herd during daytime "until we see signs of the actual birthing process," the release says. Other giraffes or zookeepers might be in the stall during the day.
For nocturnal viewing, the camera will shift into night-vision mode, with two dim red lights making the giraffes visible. "The red lights are enough for the giraffe to be visible with night vision, but not enough to disturb the natural daily cycles that they are used to," the release says.
Giraffes sleep 20 to 60 minutes per night, the zoo news release says, and they can sleep standing up.
"The first thing that viewers will see when the time comes is two front hooves emerging from mom," the release says. "After that, they should see the head. The back hooves will usually be the last thing to emerge, and then the calf will drop to the ground, 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 after birth, which can sometimes look like she's nudging or kicking the baby."
To watch the birth camera, visit cmzoo.org/birthcam.
The zoo has a herd - or tower - of 17 giraffes.
"During the down times with the birth cam, giraffe fans can also view our herd via two additional live streaming cams when they're in the outside yard," the release says. Video from those cameras can be found at cmzoo.org/giraffecam.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198