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Twin Reticulated Giraffes Born
At Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch


Wasswa, Nakato second set of living twin giraffes in the US, ninth worldwide

Twin Reticulated Giraffes, the only living set of twins and the second reported set of living twins born in the United States, were delivered at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch on May 10, 2013. The first-born female calf, Wasswa, weighed 95 pounds and was 4.5 feet tall. The second-born male calf, Nakato, weighed 125 pounds and was 5.5 feet tall.

“Both Wasswa and Nakato are thriving,” said Tiffany Soechting, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch marketing director and animal specialist caring for the newborn giraffes.

The twin giraffes were the 19th and 20th giraffes born at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, a 400-acre animal preserve recognized in Texas as a top family entertainment attraction. In operation since 1984, the ranch’s successful breeding program spawned the twins’ mother, Carol. Born in 2005, Carol was the 12th giraffe born at the ranch.


Caretakers at the ranch and ranch veterinarian Dr. Kenny Patin have been on high alert since the twins’ birth, providing around-the-clock monitoring to assure the twins’ health and vitality.

Male twin Nakato has been hand-reared since birth to ensure he receives adequate nutrition. Nakato is being re-introduced to his family through short, supervised visits to assure the mother does not perceive him as a threat. The twins are the mother’s third birth.  “As twin births are rare, we had a concern that the mother would not be able to produce enough milk for both offspring,” said Dr. Patin. “We wanted to take prudent measures to guard the twins’ health.”


According to Laurie Bingaman Lackey, giraffe studbook keeper for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the twin giraffes' birth is the second set of living giraffe twins in the US and the ninth set of living twins born in the zoos of the world. A set each have also been born in Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, England, France, and 2 sets to the same dam in South Korea.  Since the 1830s there have been over 8,000 recorded giraffe births in zoos worldwide; the twins' birth at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch are the 31st recorded set of twins. Three-quarters of twin pregnancies abort early in gestation or are stillborn. Only 9 sets of twins have been reported living at birth.

There are eight giraffes residing at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, including the twins’ father Marshall. Marshall is 10-years-old.


The average giraffe gestation is 15 months. Giraffes give birth standing up. Calves fall 6 feet to the ground, and stand up and run within an hour of birth. Giraffe calves are reliant on their mother’s milk for up to 9-12 months.  Giraffes are the tallest living land mammals with average height ranging from 16-19 feet.

“Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch has been operated by the same family for generations and they are a big part of the New Braunfels community,” said Judy Young, New Braunfels Convention and Visitors Bureau Director. “They take amazing care of their animals. It’s definitely going to be double the fun to visit this summer and watch Nakato and Wasswa grow.”

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Giraffe Twins, Wasswa & Nakato - Fact Sheet

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is the birthplace of the second set of living Reticulated Giraffe twins born in the United States and the ninth set of living twins born in the zoos of the world.

It is a rare birth. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, since the 1830s there have been over 8,000 recorded giraffe births in zoos worldwide; the twins' birth at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch are the 31st recorded set of twins. Three-quarters of twin pregnancies abort early in gestation or are stillborn. Only 9 sets of twins have been reported living at birth.

  • Carol gave birth to a healthy set of twin Reticulated Giraffes on Friday, May 10, 2013.
  • Carol’s noticeable labor started at approximately 2 p.m.  The first baby was born at 4:15 p.m. and the second was delivered 15 minutes later.
  • Giraffe gestation is 15 months. They birth in a standing position. Offspring drop 6 feet to the ground. They are able to stand and nurse within one hour.
  • The first-born female was 4 1/2 foot tall and 95 pounds. Her size was much smaller than average size at birth.  She was given the name Wasswa, which is an African name for first born of twins.
  • The second-born male was 5 1/2 foot tall and 125 pounds. Average height and weight for a baby giraffe. He was given the name Nakato, which is the coordinating name given to the second born of twins.
  • Carol was in her outdoor paddock when she gave birth. A large crowd of ranch caretakers witnessed the birth, respectfully quiet and at a comfortable distance away.
  • Marshall (father) was separated from Carol and the twins to prevent increased chance of accidental injury to the babies.
  • Nakato (male) failed to stand after 2 hours after birth. With a threat of inclement weather/heavy thunderstorms, the hard decision was made to take him to an isolated facility for safety.
  • Animal caretakers at the ranch and veterinarian Dr. Kenny Patin also were concerned that Carol (mother) would not be able to produce enough milk to support both babies.
  • It is imperative that the baby receive colostrum (a mother’s first milk) within the first hours of life as the receptors to receive these special concentrated immune cells will not absorb the colostrum after 6-24 hours.
  • At 4 days old, Nakato was re-introduced to his family at the giraffe facility. He was placed in the enclosure next to his mother & sister.
  • Short, supervised visitations in the same enclosure are given as mother has shown mild aggression towards Nakato as she “sees” him as a threat to “stealing” milk from Wasswa.
  • Time will tell if Carol will come to realize that Nakato is not a threat. The twins and mother may be able to co-exist in the same enclosure, but as the births are rare, science is not able to define what can be expected.

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