Long story, short: Giraffes come into the world in a very weird way.
On Wednesday, Brookfield Zoo's new giraffe made its public debut, easily strolling around its exhibit.
Brookfield Zoo's 17-year-old giraffe Franny attends to her new male calf she gave birth to on August 15. The calf does not have a name and it is the 57th born at the zoo.
The 2-week-old male calf began life, as giraffes do, with a 5-foot fall from its mother to the ground - a harsh entrance that zookeepers compare to a doctor slapping a newborn human's behind.
"It seems like kind of a harsh beginning,'' said Amy Roberts, the lead keeper for the zoo's Habitat Africa. "But it's part of nature.''
Emerging from its standing mother front-feet-first Aug. 15, the baby giraffe hit the ground in a collision that burst its embryonic sac.
"They come out in a diving position, kind of tucking their heads so they're not hitting head-first," Roberts said. "Sometimes, the feet will hit the ground first or the back of the neck where it meets the shoulders."
The thud "kind of wakes them up," she said, helping to clear out lung fluid and get the newborns breathing. Horses and cows also are delivered standing up sometimes, Roberts said, but with a fall far less severe.
The baby giraffe's mother, Franny, was impregnated by the father, Dusti, about 141/2 months ago. When females are fertile, it changes the flavor of their urine, which males regularly ingest to determine which mate is ready.
Dusti died in January in what zoo officials called a freak accident when his neck became entangled in a pulley rope.
Franny, 17, expelled her 150-pound newborn, Brookfield's fifth giraffe, after about 90 minutes of labor and without human assistance.
Already about 6 feet tall, the yet-unnamed baby is likely to grow quickly, as much as 3 feet in six months. Giraffes can reach 18 feet tall.
Brookfield's newborn giraffe stands tall :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State