At just four weeks old, the newest arrival of the Zoological Society of London's Whipsnade Zoo is already standing tall – at almost six feet (1.83 m)!
The Reticulated Giraffe, a baby girl, was born to proud parents Savannah and Uno on November 13. Thrilled zookeepers arrived just in time to see the calf take her first wobbly steps an hour after birth, and start to suckle soon after that.
Zookeeper Cassie Taylor said, “Savannah was born at Whipsnade 12 years ago, so it’s fantastic to see her as a mum herself now, and even more special that we were able to see the calf’s very first moments.
“It’s Savannah’s third calf and she’s taken motherhood all in her rather long stride – the new arrival is settling in well, and is already showing signs of mum’s calm nature as well as dad’s inquisitiveness.”
The calf, who will be named by zoo visitors, has spent the first few weeks getting to grips with her long legs as she explores her new home – the zoo’s brand new Giraffe Heights enclosure. Unveiled in October, it includes a revamped barn to keep the new arrival extra warm and snug, and a nine-foot-high viewing platform which brings visitors face-to-face with Whipsnade’s Giraffes.
Over the next few weeks, the calf will slowly be introduced to the rest of the herd, including half-brother Jengo, aged one, and aunties, Ijuma and Ina.
Whipsnade Zoo’s new arrival is an important part of the European Endangered Species Programme for Reticulated Giraffes. In the wild, Reticulated Giraffes are confined to north-eastern Kenya, eastern Sudan and Eritrea and it is thought there could be less than 5,000 left due to poaching and habitat degradation.
See and learn more after the fold!
Reticulated Giraffes are the most distinctively patterned of the eight subspecies of Giraffe. Their coat has brown, regular, box-like patterns (called a reticulated pattern). White spaces between the patches form narrow lines. This elaborate pattern is good camouflage in dense, dry vegetation.
Male Giraffes reach a towering 19 feet (5.8 m) tall and weigh between 2400 and 4250 pounds (1524-26989 kg). Females measure up to 17 feet (5.2 m) tall and weigh between 1540 and 2600 pounds (9779-16511 kg). Giraffe calves are the tallest babies in the world, standing at about 6.5 feet (2 m) at birth with horns that lie flat to begin with and pop up several days later. Mother Giraffes give birth standing up, and so the little horns serve as protection for the calf's head as they tumble into the world.