Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's ailing baby giraffe named early

Amid a health scare that captivated thousands, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s 10-day-old giraffe has been christened early.

The calf was named Penny after zoo workers played two songs for the newborn to help choose the name. The calf preferred the song “Penny Lane” over “Mamma Mia.” Mia and Penny were the two most popular names in early voting by the public. The name is inspired by Spencer and Julie Penrose, the zoo’s founders.

The zoo usually waits 30 days to name a baby animal – it’s partly a tradition and partly a superstition. But the circumstances are different for Penny because her condition may be life-threatening and the staff wanted her to have a name.

The decision came a day after the calf, the 200th to be born at the zoo, was found splayed in the stall she shared with her mother, Muziki, on Wednesday morning. When an animal is splayed, their legs go out from under them in an unnatural way. The condition varies from being easily treatable to fatal, according to zoo officials.

“Is is possible splaying can be life-threatening?” said Jenny Koch, zoo marketing director. “.. She’s not out of the woods yet.”

The zoo’s medical team worked at raising the baby giraffe’s blood sugar and by noon Wednesday, officials said the calf’s blood sugar level had been stabilized. An X-ray confirmed that the newborn had no broken or displaced limbs.

Afterward, they returned Penny to her mother, but attempts to nurse were unsuccessful, and the calf splayed again.

The staff then decided to separate the calf from her mother and they are helping the calf avoid injury by helping her lie down and stand up.

Penny’s mother didn’t show any unusual signs of aggression – the nudging that causes Penny to fall and splay would usually be fine for a giraffe calf, according to Koch.

Another attempt to nurse today “had mixed results.” The baby giraffe briefly nursed, but splayed again.

“To be honest we really don’t know what the next few days will look like,” said Koch. “It’s a fluid situation”

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