There's a new arrival at Chester Zoo! Despite being just a few days old, at five-and-a-half feet tall, the baby is already towering over its keepers. This pure Rothschild Giraffe is the firstborn for new mum Dagmar, following a 14-and-a-half-month pregnancy.
Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “Dagma is a first time mum but you’d never guess it – she has been doing brilliantly so far. She seems to be taking motherhood all in her, rather long, stride. The baby is strong and tall and she was on her feet really quickly and suckling from mum not long after.”
The new arrival is especially good news as there are now less than 670 Rothschild Giraffes left in the wild, following the loss of their traditional habitat in their native Kenya and Uganda and their poaching for their meat. This species is the most endangered of the nine sub-species of Giraffe.
Dagmar arrived at the zoo on Valentine’s Day last year, after finding love via an online animal dating service. She was brought to the UK from a wildlife park in Denmark to be partnered with the zoo’s then bull Giraffe, Thorn, after a long search on a computerized matchmaking service turned up a perfect genetic pairing.
Lizzie Bowen, senior giraffe keeper, said: “We put Thorn’s genetic details into an online database and it turned out a perfect match for him. This species of Giraffe is very rare and is on the ICUN red-list of Endangered species, meaning careful breeding programs in zoos are vital for their long-term survival. However, finding and getting together a good breeding pair can be very difficult indeed.”
Just like the digital dating services that pair up people, the database contains information on gender, age, height and weight, as well as a page out of most human dating sites – details of an animal’s personality.
“Dagmar was described as being rather playful and pretty and she has certainly lived up to that. She seemed to turn Thorn’s head pretty much straight away and this week we’ve seen the result with the birth of a beautiful, pure baby Rothschild giraffe,” added Lizzie.
Both baby and Mom are already on exhibit to be enjoyed by the visiting public.