KEY POINTS

  • The medical team successfully delivered the calf despite its mother's complicated pregnancy
  • After the birth's announcement, zoo officials noticed that the calf was in distress
  • The animal care team intervened right away but failed to revive the calf
  • A necropsy showed that the newborn giraffe had suffered trauma to the neck

In a tragic incident, a newborn Masai giraffe has died at the Nashville Zoo after its mother accidentally stepped on it.  

The incident happened on Saturday after the first-time mother Nasha, 6, gave birth to the calf after a complicated labor, reported CNN.

Thousands watched online via livestream as Nasha went into labor. However, the animal soon developed complications and the medical team led by Dr. Matthew DeLisle from the Tennessee Equine Hospital had to intervene. They, along with the zoo's vet team, managed to successfully deliver the calf.

After the announcement of its birth, however, zookeepers saw that the baby giraffe was in distress.

"The calf appeared to be thriving on an initial exam. We moved the newborn to be with her mother and the two were bonding. During this time, Nasha may have inadvertently injured her calf. The giraffe keepers noticed that the calf was in distress," said Dr. Heather Schwartz, Nashville Zoo's Director of Veterinary Medicine. 

Although the animal care team immediately intervened, it was unsuccessful in its bid to revive the baby giraffe.

According to a statement from the Nashville Zoo, a necropsy showed that the newborn giraffe had suffered trauma to the neck. "The baby will undergo further testing to see if there may have been any underlying causes involved with the death though initial observations did not indicate anything specific," the statement said.

"We are devastated over the loss of Nasha's calf," said Nashville Zoo President and CEO Rick Schwartz. "Our staff has worked tirelessly to make sure the calf was given the best possible care. We moved from fear of a stillborn to joy of revival to anguish."

As for the mother, she is doing well. The zoo's giraffe keepers will be giving Nasha lots of comfort and care for the next few days.

The giraffe's pregnancy was followed by thousands after the local TV station WKRN installed three cameras to update the viewers about the event. The zoo also included the live cameras on their "Baby Boom" webpage, urging people to watch the "Baby Giraffe Cam" on their website. 

Masai giraffe has been classified as endangered species in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to their decline of approximately 50% in the last three generations. They are often noticeably darker than other species with larger patches that are distinctively vine leaf-shaped with jagged edges. 

Giraffe Representational image Photo: Getty Images