Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 16:26 PM. GULF BREEZE — The Gulf Breeze Zoo has experienced a baby boom in recent months, and guests are lining up to take a peek.“It’s wonderful because it’s the natural process for the adults. This is the best environmental enrichment for them to be able to nurse a baby,” said curator Tenielle Welch. Gamba, the newest of the zoo’s animals to be named, stands 8 feet tall at just 2 months old. The giraffe has grown more than 2 feet since he was born Nov. 10.
“He definitely has his own personality,” Welch said as she watched Gamba walk toward her, his tongue sticking out. “He likes to do what he wants to do and you can’t make him do anything else.”
Welch said the infant giraffe is beginning to eat whole foods, munching on grains and nibbling at hay, but will primarily nurse until he is 8 months old.
“People ask about him every day,” Welch said. “He’s at a fun stage. He’s learning to taste, discover. He’s figuring out how his body works.”
Gamba is just one of a number of baby animals in the zoo’s care. Cooper the hippo was born in early October. Two kangaroos have baby joeys, one still taking shelter primarily in its mother’s pouch, and two bongo siblings were born a month apart in October and November. Welch said the two are inseparable, a rarity for the endangered animal.
“All of our baby animals are right on track, learning from their mothers,” Welch said. “They’re learning what to eat, what to be afraid of, how to act.”
Welch said a baby zebra is expected in the next four to five months, but beyond that she doesn’t expect any more babies.
“The last four or five months really have been a baby boom here, but now the mothers will just be nursing the babies,” she said. “It’s nice for our guests to see cute babies, but it really shows our hard work. We have created an environment where the animals are healthy enough to have babies.”
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Angel McCurdy at 850-315-4432 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AngelMnwfdn.