Updated: Kiko, the baby giraffe, enthralls the Greenville Zoo
A throng came out Wednesday to welcome the Greenville Zoo's newest arrival, baby giraffe Kiko. If cuteness is your thing, Kiko is your boy. Check out the photo gallery!
Updated with photo gallery.
After two days of anticipation, Greenville Zoo officials on Wednesday introduced baby giraffe, Kiko, to a throng of eager onlookers and the media.
The healthy 118-pound male Masai giraffe was born to parents Autumn and Walter Monday night in an event viewed online by people all over the world.
Kiko, whose name means "Autumn's child" in Swahili, didn't disappoint. Alternately following his mother around, nursing, or just snoozing in the grass, a crowd of about 200 eagerly snapped pictures and generally doted on and cooed over the new baby.
Some folks came from as far as North Carolina and Georgia to see Kiko, whose gestation and birth, chronicled live and online, has already exceeded one million viewers, Zoo Director Jeff Bullock said.
One woman came all the way from Boone, in far western North Carolina, to see the zoo's new celebrity.
"I watched it all online, and I wasn't going to miss this for anything," she said. "He's incredible and beautiful. With all that is going on in the world, Kiko gives me hope and happiness. I've been smiling ever since I got here."
It helps that Kiko is incredibly cute. How cute? Said a zoo worker: "I work with the reptiles, so that is just plain, furry cute. He just has cuteness coming out of his pores."
"This was a tremendous success for the Greenville Zoo and our community," Bullock said. "We were amazed at the number of people who followed Autumn through her pregnancy and watched the live birth on the giraffe cam. Viewers had the opportunity to experience the angst and excitement that zoo staff around the world deal with as part of their daily duties, the birth of an animal."
So just how did the zoo arrive at Kiko's name? Area radio station MY102.5 FM celebrated the baby's arrival with a contest to guess the baby's birthday and weight — as well as a baby-naming contest. From the submissions given by listeners, zoo staff picked Kiko.
For the curious, Kiko was born 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed slightly more than 118 pounds. He may eventually grow to 16 feet and weigh as much as 2,600 pounds, zoo officials said.
Kiko underwent a neonatal exam on Wednesday morning and was declared healthy and happy. He will be on exhibit daily with his six-year-old mother, and will alternate exhibit time with father, Walter, who is seven years old.
Zoo visitors should expect Kiko to do a lot of nursing and sleeping in the early going, though he will become more active and curious as he grows. On a few occasions Wednesday, the baby did indeed plop down onto the ground and briefly snooze; though in other periods, he ambled near the gathered crowd and showed his budding curiosity.
For now, Autumn and Kiko will be on exhibit the first part of the day so that they have plenty of time shifting on and off exhibit. Once they are shifting well, Walter will spend the morning on exhibit, leaving mother and child to enjoy the afternoons together, the zoo said.
Daily activity will depend on the weather. The zoo's ticket booth will be kept informed about which giraffe is on exhibit, in order to inform visitors. The zoo advised that visitors coming from out of town call ahead if their intention is to see Kiko.
Were you one of the many people in the Upstate and elsewhere enthralled by baby Kiko's arrival? We'd love to hear all about it in the comment section below.