By HEATHER NELLIS
MAYFIELD -- Autumn has arrived.
That's the name given to a 6-foot-tall baby giraffe born at Adirondack Animal Land at approximately 11:15 a.m. Sunday. The calf is the third born to Stretch and Summer; her big brothers having been born in late July 2010 and November 2011, respectively.
Unfortunately, locals won't be able to get a glimpse of the calf this year, as the zoo was buttoned up earlier this month for the winter.
"It's gotten too cold for the animals to be out, and we've got everything put away," said Patty Eglin, who operates the 80-acre zoo with her husband, Dave Eglin.
Dave Eglin said he thought the baby would be born in August, but he was off by a month. It will take the calf about three years to mature, and she will come to stand about 15 feet tall.
The calf has a cozy barn stall all to herself, just next to the camp occupied by her parents. She was born after the typical 14-month gestation period. The birth went as expected; the Eglins guiding the baby from her mother, where she literally walked onto the earth.
The baby calf is bottle-fed to ensure she gets the nutrients she needs because the mother didn't produce milk right after giving birth.
"We can't wait," Dave Eglin said. "Twelve hours is the window of opportunity to foster them so they have the right antibodies to live. If not, they'll be dead in three days, and that's true of any animal.
"Taking care of unhandled wild giraffes is difficult to do -- they only have about a 50 percent chance of surviving," he continued. "But now, we can give her vaccinations, touch her legs, and play with her."