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Baby Giraffe Reunites With Herd At San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Above: A 3-month-old Ugandan giraffe, Leroy, is let into the East Africa exhibit at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park by lead keeper Peter Jones

There was a lot of sniffing, nose-rubbing and some playful behavior this morning as a 3-month-old Ugandan giraffe was reintroduced to his mother and herd at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

San Diego Zoo

A 3-month-old Ugandan giraffe, Leroy, interacts with a member of the herd at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, April 14, 2014.

Animal care staff were elated to release the giraffe calf into the East Africa exhibit after weeks of hospitalization.

The calf, named Leroy, was born on Jan. 8 to mother, Shani. At 2 weeks of age, keepers noticed the young giraffe was exhibiting signs of weakness and not eating well. He was immediately transferred to the Safari Park's veterinary hospital where it was determined he had a severe bacterial infection and his chances of recovery were slim.

Leroy was treated for almost a month with antibiotics for the infection and intravenous fluids to keep him hydrated. He was bottle-fed three to five times a day and monitored around the clock by the Safari Park's animal care team.

After 39 days in the hospital, the young giraffe made a full recovery and was discharged to a restricted area of the field exhibit, where keepers continued to bottle-feed him and started the process necessary for the successful reintroduction that took place Monday.

Of the nine subspecies, the Ugandan giraffe is the only one that is endangered. It is believed that fewer than 700 of this subspecies remain in only a few small, isolated populations in Kenya and Uganda.

The Safari Park is home to 13 Ugandan giraffe: five males and eight females.

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