For zookeepers at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, grief over a father giraffe's passing is now being tempered by the joy of his son’s birth.
In December, the patriarch of the zoo’s giraffe herd, Duke, passed away at age 21 from an age-related degenerative disease.
“The arrival of our beloved Duke’s son is an especially moving way to honor his amazing legacy. We’re all looking forward to watching this little guy grow and develop,” said Dan Maloney, deputy zoo director, in an email to WJCT News.
The reticulated giraffe calf was born Wednesday morning to mother Naomi. The calf is Duke’s 18th child and likely won't be his final offspring. Another giraffe, Luna, is also pregnant and expected to give birth in the next few days.
The calf born on Wednesday weighed in at 187 pounds and is nearly 6-feet-4-inches tall.
Mother and son are bonding behind the scenes, but the zoo expects the pair to be on exhibit with the rest of the herd by the weekend.
A name for the calf hasn’t been announced yet.