How do you get a baby giraffe to drink?

November 4, 2008

A giraffe (left) was born at a wildlife park in south Norway last week but it lacks any interest in its mother’s milk.

Handlers at Kristiansand Dyrepark  (not the most tropical place for a giraffe to come into the world) have today managed to feed the unnamed week-old female from a bottle for the first time — virtually ramming the bottle down its neck (see picture below)

But the baby giraffe hasn’t figured out how to suck, and shows no interest in its mother. It had previously been fed from a drip inserted into its neck.

But how do you get a giraffe interested in its mother’s milk?

A local newspaper, Dagbladet, has even asked its readers for suggestions about how to help the already dangerously spindly creature. Among them:

— Smear the mother’s teats with honey.

— Pour half a litre of cooking oil down the baby’s throat — a farmer says that works with new-born calves whose digestive systems are blocked.

— Try to get it to suck the finger of one of the park staff to get it used to the idea.

— Put a TV screen in the pen showing films of other young giraffes eating.

Any giraffe experts out there with other ideas?


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I think the baby giraffe should be exposed and left in a field where other baby giraffes are suckling on their mothers.If it has eyes it will see and learn by observation.Offcourse it’s not a human being but I hope it would eventually learn.Just give it a try.There’s nothing to lose.

Posted by Boniface | Report as abusive

Many zoos bottle feed babies. I say let the zookeepers earn their pay. They brought this animal into the world they are responsible for it.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Sounds like they don’t know why the baby isn’t feeding. I think there’s some other reason than lack of interest. Perhaps digestive problems as the farmer suggested. Figure out the problem, then they’ll know if anything can be done. It may be something very easy. Meanwhile, might want to milk the mother, or she may stop producing. At least, I’ve heard that’s how it works with dairy cows. They must be milked every day, or they’re ruined.

Posted by Brent | Report as abusive

breastfeeding in humans isn’t always the easy thing people want it to be. Sometimes the babies tongue can’t reach under the nipple to suck properly. sometimes the latching on is difficult. sometimes the baby needs a quiet environment to relax enough to feed. there are myriad reasons. some physical, some emotional. but human intervention would make the calf more skittish about it probably. I would just bottle feed it.

Posted by kami | Report as abusive

I find that very strange and naturally unnatural since a baby mammal instinctively sucks the mother immediately after birth without any training or persuasion. Feed the calve with formula but just know the creature must be having an inate abnormality and i wouldnt be surprised if it dies sooner than later.
Best wishes and keep us posted

Posted by Daniel Njaga | Report as abusive