8 Jun 2015

The arrival of the five-foot-tall youngster is proving cause for great celebration at the zoo as Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the world’s most endangered subspecies of giraffe, with recent estimates suggesting less than 1,100 are left in the wild.

The leggy newcomer, who was born to mum Dagmar and dad Meru, follows hot on the hooves of Zahra who arrived just before Christmas last year.

Dagmar gave birth to the zoo’s latest arrival at 13:05 on Sunday afternoon and her new charge was up on its feet and seen suckling soon after.

The news has come as a boost to the species with recent estimates suggest less than 1,100 Rothschild’s are left in the wild – making them one of the world’s most endangered subspecies of giraffe.

Curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said:

We’ve had two giraffe calves born in quick succession so it’s rather like seeing double!

But with Rothschild’s giraffe numbers declining in the wild at an alarming rate, we really hope our not-so-little new arrival draws some much needed attention to the species. These animals are under real threat from a massive upsurge in poaching for their meat and are of high conservation priority – indeed the need for a concerted conservation effort has never been more urgent.

As well as successful breeding record with Rothschild’s giraffes, Chester Zoo has also supported important 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.

The giraffe house will be closed today to give mum and calf some important bonding time.

Explore more of our work with giraffes here

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