Baby Buttercup took his first steps around the Santa Barbara Zoo and seemed to like what he saw.
The baby giraffe, trailed by its anxious mother, walked gingerly around his exhibit Tuesday, staring out at the visitors gathered to catch his debut. He then launched into a trot, prompting cheers from the crowd of mostly mothers and children.
"Well everything's new to him if you think about it," Sheri Horiszny, the zoo's director of animal programs said. "He's four days old so he'd never seen a bird before, he's never seen rocks before. The wind feels different outside of the barn so just everything is new. So he's reacting to that and then running back to what he knows, and then coming back out for more."
Visitors couldn't seem to get enough of baby Buttercup.
"I think he is super cute," said Lynnea Ramos of the four-day-old giraffe, who, weighing in at 186 pounds and standing over 6-and-a-half-feet tall, is the biggest calf Horiszny has ever seen.
Buttercup is one of several Masai giraffes born recently at the California zoo, with one sent to a zoo in Wako, Texas, and another to Phoenix. The zoo's other female giraffe, Betty Lou, is also pregnant, and giraffe keepers estimate that she will give birth in March 2015.
"Because they are just over 100 Masai giraffes in captivity in North America, each birth and each giraffe is very important," Horiszny said in a statement. "I'm very proud of our sire Michael (the zoo's only male giraffe), as he's now clearly a proven breeder, and his genetics greatly help the diversity of our Masai population."