Sumatran tiger pregnant; giraffe calf born overnight at zoo

The San Francisco Zoo has dealt with tragedy in recent years related to its tiger exhibit, but on Monday good news prevailed.

Zoo officials had previously announced plans to resume a popular big cat feeding show today, but then said Monday that they’d have to hold off because they discovered that their 4-year-old Sumatran tiger, Leanne, was pregnant.

Spokeswoman Lora LaMarca said the feedings would bring too much noise into the Lion House where Leanne is expected to give birth in two to three weeks. A typical gestation period for a Sumatran tiger is just more than three months.

The animal baby announcement was the second that the zoo made Monday. A zookeeper arrived at work Monday morning to find the newest resident of the zoo, a baby giraffe, had made its long drop into the world, LaMarca said.

Giraffes give birth standing up, which is a drop of about 6 feet. Nature designed them that way to kind of give the baby a shock, LaMarca said. Giraffes stand up immediately so they can escape predators in the wild.

Zookeepers are keeping a close eye on the baby girl, which looked strong Monday but didn’t immediately feed. If the unnamed calf doesn’t nurse from her mother, Gezi, soon, the zoo will resort to bottle feeding, LaMarca said.

“We try to avoid it, and this is an experienced mom, but the baby has to eat,” she said.

In 2006, a tiger mauled a zookeeper, and in December, the same tiger escaped its enclosure, killing a teenager and mauling two of his friends.

bbegin@examiner.com

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