The latest of the leggy newcomers was born to mum Orla at 6:50am on Thursday 23 July after a 15-month gestation. Zookeepers are yet to determine the sex of the calf, which follows hot on the hooves of fellow recent arrivals Zahra and Sanyu.
The trio of new additions to the zoo’s herd of Rothschild’s giraffes, classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has given an important boost for the ongoing breeding programme for the species. Recent estimates suggest that fewer than 1,100 are left in the wild – making them one of the most endangered subspecies of giraffe in the world.
Assistant curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Nick Davis, said:
It’s often said that three is the magic number and that’s certainly been the case for us – our new arrival has made it a hat-trick of endangered Rothschild’s giraffe calves born here in the space of just eight months.
Our most recent calf arrived yesterday morning and both mum Orla and her youngster are doing very well. With this being Orla’s second calf, she’s a relatively experienced mum now and is doing a fantastic job of caring for her new charge.
The calf was up on its feet and nursing shortly after the birth and is already full of energy and personality, so we’re all very excited to see how they get along with the rest of the herd.
If this trio of calves can help to raise awareness of the huge pressures that Rothschild’s giraffes face on a day-to-day basis out in the wild and highlight the ever-growing need for conservation, then we’ll be very happy indeed.
Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the Rothschild’s giraffe has been almost totally eliminated and now only survives in a few small, isolated populations.
As well its successful breeding programme, Chester Zoo also supports vital projects in the wild – including the first ever scientific review of the species – with the aim of developing a long-term conservation strategy for the animals in Africa.
- Mum Orla was born on 17/03/2008 and is seven years old
- Dad is five-years-old Meru, born 03/04/2010
- The calf was born at around 6:50am on 23/07/2015. She is Orla’s second calf. Her first was Millie, who was born at Chester Zoo on 02/03/2013
- 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
- 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
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