Lucy, Giraffe Mom-To-Be At Singapore Zoo

Lucy the giraffe towers over Dr Abraham Mathew, Assistant Director, Veterinary Services, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, as he conducts an ultrasound scan on her to check on the health of her calf.
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Singapore Zoo’s 14-year-old giraffe Lucy is pregnant and expected to give birth to a giraffe calf at the end of January 2019, announced Singapore Zoo today.

New Baby Giraffe Expected in the New Year

Lucy the Giraffe
The animal care team, consisting of the vets and keepers, was ecstatic to see little hooves during one of the ultrasound sessions.

Earlier in April this year, keepers noticed a bump in Lucy’s tummy and the vets were brought in to confirm the pregnancy. Giraffes typically have gestation periods of between 400 to 460 days and give birth to their calves while standing up.

The last giraffe calf born at Singapore Zoo was in 2015. The calf, a male, was named Jubilee as its birth coincided with Singapore’s Golden Jubilee.

Lucy’s mate is 14-year-old Marco.

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A Shower Head — A Dummy Ultrasound Probe

In anticipation of the pregnancy, Lucy’s keepers have been conditioning her to be comfortable with ultrasound checks. She has had months of getting her tummy rubbed with a shower head covered with gel to simulate ultrasound procedures.

Conditioning Lucy for ultrasound scans.
When Herbivore Keeper Hikmat Siliwangi and his team suspected that Lucy the giraffe might be pregnant, they devoted mornings to conditioning her for ultrasound scans. To get her comfortable with having her tummy rubbed, they used the humble shower head smothered with gel as a dummy ultrasound probe so that when the time came for the vets to use the real ultrasound equipment, the procedure was a breeze for all involved, especially the cautious Lucy.

“We’ve been working with the giraffe herd for many years now so they are quite used to our scents, voices and general presence. Lucy however, is a particularly cautious giraffe and she was very wary when we first started the conditioning process. Our first challenge was to get her to enter the raceway, a narrow path where the ultrasounds take place. Next was introducing her to the shower head—our dummy ultrasound probe,” shared Herbivore Keeper Hikmat Siliwangi.

“The key was to give Lucy as much time as she needed to get comfortable, coupled with lots of positive reinforcement. It took nearly three months before Lucy would allow me to touch her tummy, but I am glad we spent the time doing so. Lucy is cooperative with the vets now for ultrasound scans and other medical procedures. I am so proud of our girl!” he added.

Like any expectant mother, Lucy is being cared for diligently. Hikmat and his team giving her access to alfalfa hay, assorted leaves and browser pellets.

Visitors to Singapore Zoo can see Lucy, Marco and Jubilee at the Giraffe exhibit and interact with them at thrice daily feeding sessions at 10.45 am, 1.50 pm and 3.45 pm.

Lucy the giraffe.
Lucy the giraffe.

All images courtesy of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

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