Birth of a Giraffe, Attended by Vultures

Giraffe in labor; note the calf's hooves protruding.

Tracy and I witnessed this birth at the Oklahoma City Zoo years ago. She was the first to notice the giraffe was in labor. "What's that sticking out of that giraffe?" she said. A closer look revealed that it was tiny hooves. We alerted the zoo employees, who stood and watched with us. ("What's the time table here?" another visitor asked impatiently.)

Birth in progress; vultures await a chance to snatch placenta or calf. 

Birth--the calf falls head-first, a drop of about six feet.

The calf seemed healthy; the vultures went hungry. 

Photos by Tracy.


  1. Those are Old World vultures :O Do they keep them along with the giraffes? Im guessing they clip their wings or something??

    1. One wing is pinioned-the first joint is surgically removed. The bird can fly but not gain much height.

    2. Interesting! Thanks for the info.

  2. I wondered about that myself, after the fact. I got so wrapped up in the birth that I didn't even think to ask about the birds at the time. I do recall other exhibits with lots of large African birds. One secretary bird ran along beside us (on the other side of a fence), then seemed to throw some sort of a fit and bite itself.

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