Belfast Zoo’s newest arrival, a days old Rothschild’s giraffe calf has been announced as a boy on World Giraffe Day.
The endangered calf was born to parents Daisy and Finn on 20 June 2019 with the first few hours of birth seen by visitors including local schoolchildren. Daisy and her calf have spent time bonding since the birth and the whole herd has taken extremely well to the latest addition to their family. The baby calf recently had its veterinary check-up, where its sex was determined and he was given a clean bill of health. The calf has taken his first steps around the giraffe house and has been suckling his mother.
The baby boy has not been named yet, however the zoo hopes to announce this next week. Belfast Zoo’s giraffe calves have traditionally been named after towns and villages in Northern Ireland and Ireland starting with “Bally” and this male will be no exception. Visitors can share their suggestions for the calf’s name on the zoo’s social media pages.
Zoo curator, Raymond Robinson, said “We are amazed at how well our little calf is doing, he is extremely active and loves being on his feet! After having a morning suckle, most calves would go to straight to sleep but he just loves staying on his feet and being active. For the first four to six months of the calf’s life they will drink milk from their mother. After this time the baby calf will begin eating leaves. In the wild if babies can’t reach the trees to forage for leaves their mothers will break them off for them. Giraffes can spend up to 18 hours per day consuming leaves.’’
This will be Daisy’s second son, after Gilbert who was born in 2017 in Belfast Zoo. Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies, with only small numbers remaining in protected areas in Kenya and northern Uganda. Some estimates suggest less than 1600 remain in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss.
Belfast Zoo first became home to this species in 1988 and has now celebrated the arrival of 35 giraffe calves. Belfast Zoo takes part in collaborative European breeding programmes and has seen a number of giraffes transferred to other zoos around UK, Ireland and Europe over recent years.
Belfast Zoo has welcomed a number of new babies in recent months including 17 priarie dog pups, vicuña, francois langur and red-backed bearded saki.
Visitors can see the new calf and his herd in the giraffe house at Belfast Zoo daily from 10am. Last admission is at 5pm and the zoo closes at 6pm. For more information visit belfastzoo.co.uk