Five-day-old Rothschild giraffe, Sanyu, kicks up his heels and stretches his long legs.
The 5ft youngster – a rare Rothschild’s giraffe – took his very first steps in the sunshine after being born 13:05 on Sunday afternoon. He arrived to mum Dagmar and dad Meru and is the second calf to be born at the zoo in the space of just six months – following hot on the hooves of Zahra who arrived just before Christmas last year.
Not-so-little Sanyu – whose name means ‘happiness’ in Swahili – is the first male to be born at the zoo in recent years, with the previous four calves before him being female.
Team manager of giraffes at Chester Zoo, Sarah Roffe, said:
Sanyu has had a busy week getting used to his long legs, learning about his surroundings and settling in with the rest of the herd. He’s doing really well so far under the watchful guidance of his mum Dagmar.
Now that Sanyu has made his debut it’s great to watch people’s reactions when they see him for the first time. He’s already becoming a favourite with our visitors and hopefully he will help raise awareness of the enormous pressures faced by the species in the wild. An upsurge in poaching means that Rothschild’s giraffe numbers are declining at an alarming rate in Africa.
We’re thrilled with Sanyu and we hope he will go on to be a vital addition to the European-wide breeding programme, ensuring that zoos have a viable insurance population of the species.
Rothschild’s giraffes were added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered species in 2010 after estimates suggested less than 1,100 are left in the wild – making them one of the world’s most endangered subspecies of giraffe.
As well as a successful breeding record with Rothschild’s giraffes, Chester Zoo has also supported important conservation projects in the wild, including the first ever scientific review of the species. Its aim is to develop a long-term conservation strategy for the animals in Africa.
Rothschild’s giraffe facts
- Mum Dagmar was born on 20/09/2006. She is nine years old
- Dad is five-year-old Meru, born 03/04/2010
- The calf was born at around 13:05 on Sunday 7 June. She is Dagmar’s second calf. Her first was Kanzi, who was born at Chester Zoo on 01/10/2012, making her two-and-a-half years old
- Rothschild’s giraffe are named after zoologist Lord Walter Rothschild, founder of the National History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire
- They are also known as the baringo or Ugandan giraffe
- The species is identified by its broader dividing white lines and has no spots beneath the knees
- Giraffe population figures are declining across Africa
- Rothschild’s giraffes are classed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with current population estimates suggesting less than 1,100 remain in the wild
- With less than 1,100 individuals remaining in the wild the Rothschild’s giraffe is more endangered than species such as African elephants and giant pandas
- Roughly one-third of the surviving population of Rothschild’s giraffes live in zoos where carefully co-ordinated breeding programmes are creating a safety-net population for the species
- Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the Rothschild’s giraffe has been almost totally eliminated from much of its former range and now only survives in a few small, isolated populations in Kenya and Uganda
- The main threat to the species now is loss of habitat and poaching for meat and hides
- In the past, giraffes were hunted for their tails, which were used as good-luck charms, sewing thread and even fly swats
- The species is one of the most endangered of the nine sub-species of giraffe