Chester Zoo has welcomed an adorable new arrival on Boxing Day. Zookeepers say the rare Rothschild’s giraffe was the best Christmas present they could have had. Even though the baby is now only two days old, it is already six feet tall.
The zoo has not yet determined whether the baby is a boy or a girl, but said that it was born to first time mother Tula and dad Meru at around 7am on Boxing Day morning. It was up on its feet just a few minutes after the birth.
Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the world’s most at risk species, so the new arrival is significant for conservation efforts. Currently, less than 1,600 of the subspecies remain living in the wild because of poaching and loss of habitat.
Team manager of giraffes at the zoo, Sarah Roffe, said that keepers were leaving mum and calf to spend a few days together to bond before the little boy or girl was introduced to the rest of the giraffe herd at Chester. She said the little baby could have an important role to play in helping to raise awareness of Rothschild’s giraffes in the wild.
In less than half a century, the number of Rothschild’s giraffes in the Kidepo Valley National Park in Uganda, where they once thrived, has dropped by a staggering 90 per cent. The population has failed to bounce back since poaching in the Nineties. Keepers from Chester have been out to Uganda in a bid to better understand how the zoo can help with conservation efforts. The first ever census of Rothschild’s giraffes in the park has also been conducted to try to find out why the population is not increasing.
It has been an incredible Christmas of new arrivals for Chester Zoo, which has already welcomed baby elephant Indali to 12 year old Asian elephant Sundara after a 22 month pregnancy.