Within minutes of being born, this rare baby giraffe was on its feet, and shortly after, it stood beside its mom for its first family photo.
The newborn was delivered to first-time mother, Tula, at Chester Zoo in England on Boxing Day (December 26th). Now, at only two days old, the six feet tall calf towers over most humans.
The baby is a highly endangered Rothschild giraffe. With an estimated 1,600 of them in the wild, the birth is a major celebration. It has not yet been given a name and zookeepers said they still aren’t sure of its sex. They’ll name the baby giraffe once they know.
Sarah Roffe, team manager of giraffes at the zoo, said: “Rothschild’s giraffes are highly endangered and so the arrival of a new calf is a major cause for celebration. It really is the best Christmas gift we could have ever have wished for.”
“Shortly after being born, the calf was up on its feet within minutes, which was really pleasing to see. When it gets a little more used to its long legs it will be introduced to the rest of the herd but, for now, it’s important that mum and calf spend a few days together striking up those early bonds.”
“This iconic species is often overlooked in Africa and, sadly, Rothschild’s giraffes are experiencing a silent extinction. They are very much under threat in the wild, so it’s vital that our new calf helps us to throw a spotlight on this amazing species. Hopefully, our not-so-little arrival can generate more awareness of the huge pressures that Rothschild’s giraffes face in the wild.”
In the last 45 years the population of the Rothchild’s giraffes in Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP) in Uganda – where they were once found in large numbers – has fallen by over 90 per cent. A huge part of its decline was due to poaching in the 1990’s and since then the population has failed to bounce back as habitat loss continues to threaten their survival.
Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s curator of mammals, added: “Our giraffe keepers have been out to Africa to lend their expertise and know how to an extremely important project which is aiming to improve the outlook for the species.”
“Initiatives like this really show the role that modern zoos play in animal conservation and it will give us a better understanding of how we can help protect the species and its future.”