Houston Zoo welcomes baby giraffe

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Proud papa Mtembei (born 05/05/07) nuzzles his son Yao the newest addition to the herd in the barn paddock at the McGovern Giraffe Exhibit in The African Forest. The paddock served as a nursery for Neema and Yao and allowed the rest of the…

HOUSTON - The Houston Zoo has a new animal – a baby giraffe!

The giraffe, named Yao for former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, was born about 7 a.m. on Monday.

"The calf weighs 62 kilos, about 139 pounds and stands 74 inches tall," Hoofed Stock Supervisor John Register said.

Yao's mother is 5-year-old Neema and his father is 6-year-old Mtembei. Neema was pregnant with Yao for 14 months.

"The calf was standing on his own a little over an hour after he was born and was nursing about 4 hours later," said Register.

With Yao's arrival, the Houston Zoo now has nine Masai giraffes – six males and three females.

The giraffe was names Yao to honor Yao Ming for his work spotlighting illegal elephant and rhinoceros poaching in Africa and the shark fin trade in Asia.

Baby Yao will make his debut at the Houston Zoo at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

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