Two giraffes at zoo expected to give birth soon

Betty-Lou and Audrey are around 15-months pregnant

Victoria Sanchez, KEYT NewsChannel 3 Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
POSTED: 06:23 PM PDT Apr 03, 2013    UPDATED: 06:48 PM PDT Apr 03, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

There are two expectant mothers at the Santa Barbara Zoo and it's all hands on deck to prepare for the big newborns.

Michael, Betty-Lou and Audrey are popular at the zoo.

"I like the giraffes so much, I like looking at them every day!" said 5-year-old Madison Walesko.

Very soon, babies will make five. Audrey and Betty-Lou are 14 1/2 to 15 months pregnant and are set to give birth any day.

Michael, the male Masai giraffe, has been busy with his ladies.

"We brought him in on purpose for that, breeding, and he did his job right away and we're really excited," said Sheri Horiszny, director of animal programs. 

Both giraffe calves are expected around the same time, but this won't be the first giraffe birth at the zoo.

Last year, nobody realized Audrey was pregnant until she had Daniel. He only lived a year and a half.

"Everyone here at the zoo was extremely bonded to him. You could help but not be. His loss was extremely hard on everyone. So to now look forward to the new babies and give that joy back in the giraffe barn again is really exciting," said Wendy Anderson, senior mammal keeper.

Now, before the big day, zookeepers are busy. The barn is getting baby proofed with padding and hay bales. They are also keeping a close eye on the animals with round the clock giraffe cams.

Many of the zoo visitors are excited about the new additions. When NewsChannel 3 asked Bailey Ballinger how big she thought the calves would be, she answered, "Little tiny!" But her younger brother Jacob stretched his arms as wide as he could, thinking they might be a little bigger.

"A giraffe calf is about my size," said Horiszny. "A little lighter than me, 5 feet 9 inches up to 6 feet tall. They have to be that tall to reach the milk."

The newborns will live at the Santa Barbara Zoo for at least two years but eventually they will have new homes in other zoos.