01 20/01/2017

Walking tall! Giraffe calf stays close to mum during outdoor debut at Chester Zoo

Three-week-old giraffe calf, Murchison, has given his long legs a stretch during his outdoor debut at Chester Zoo.

Giraffe calf - Chester Zoo
Lofty debut! Three-week-old Rothschild’s giraffe calf, Murchison, gives mum Tula and the rest of the herd the runaround at Chester Zoo.

The lofty new arrival revelled in his first adventure with the rest of the zoo’s Rothschild’s giraffe herd - all under the supervision of mum Tula.

Zookeepers, who have named the calf Murchison after Murchison Falls in Uganda which is home to the largest remaining population of Rothschild's giraffes, have described the not-so-little youngster as “a touch shy” but say he’s now “starting to find his feet.” 

Fiona Howe, the zoo’s assistant giraffe team manager, said:

Murchison was born on Boxing Day and since then he’s chosen to spend some quality time with mum Tula, who has really taken motherhood in her stride. Now he’s really starting to find his feet and explore his habitat.

It’s great to see the reactions of people when they see Murchison strutting his stuff for the very first time. Hopefully that excitement will lead to them wanting to learn more about these gentle giants. They are facing a silent extinction in their native habitat and there needs to be much more awareness of this.

If the high levels of poaching and habitat loss continue as they are, it is entirely possible that giraffes could become extinct in the wild in a generation. And once they’re gone, they’re gone for good. We must do all we can to ensure this doesn’t ever happen.

Conservationists estimate there to be only 1,600 Rothschild’s giraffes left across Africa – making them one of the world’s rarest and most at risk species – as poaching and habitat loss continue to push the species to the very edge of existence. 

In 2016 Chester Zoo’s giraffe experts travelled to Uganda and South Africa to assist with conservation efforts working to protect the animals in the wild. The zoo’s team - alongside project partners The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) - helped conduct the first ever census on the Rothschild’s giraffe in an attempt to better understand why one of the last remaining populations in Uganda has not grown in recent years.