A rare set of living reticulated giraffe twins was born earlier this month at a Texas wildlife refuge. This is only the second set of twin giraffes ever born alive in the United States.
The babies were welcomed into the world on May 10 at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, in San Antonio, Texas.
The first-born female calf was 4-1/2 feet tall and weighed 95 pounds. Her brother weighed 125 pounds at birth and stood a foot taller. Their names are African names given to twins -- Wasswa, for first born twin, and Nakato for the second born.
"Both Wasswa and Nakato are thriving," said Tiffany Soechting, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch marketing director and animal specialist caring for the newborns.
Nakato was removed from the giraffe enclosure shortly after birth and has been hand-reared, to make sure that he receives adequate nutrition and due to concern for his safety.
"As twin births are rare, we had a concern that the mother would not be able to produce enough milk for both offspring," said ranch veterinarian Dr. Kenny Patin. "We wanted to take prudent measures to guard the twins' health."
Nakato has been placed in the enclosure next to his mother and sister and is being re-introduced through short, supervised visits to assure the mother does not perceive him as a threat.
According to to Laurie Bingaman Lackey, giraffe studbook keeper for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, this is only the second set of twin giraffes born alive in the U.S., and the ninth set of living twins born in zoos worldwide (alive twins have also been born in Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, England and France, and two sets were born to the same mother in South Korea).
Here's hoping mother and twins will soon become one big, happy and healthy family!
-- Kelly Burgess
Image of Wasswa, left, and Nakato courtesy of Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch via Facebook