Visitors got a surprise at Belfast Zoo, on Monday, when they witnessed the birth of a Rothschild’s Giraffe calf!
The latest addition was born to mother, Neja, and father, Finn, on Monday, September 1st. Keepers first discovered Neja’s pregnancy in 2013, and after a gestation period of approximately 15 months, she displayed signs of labor in the afternoon.
Giraffes give birth standing up, and the calf will fall more than five feet to the ground! The calf learns to stand within 30 minutes and can run just 10 hours after birth!
Belfast Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, is delighted with the new arrival, “Keepers were onsite throughout the labor to ensure that everything went smoothly. Since the birth, we have been giving the pair time to bond. For that reason, we have not yet had the opportunity to find out what sex the latest arrival is. As we are extremely proud of being the only zoo in Northern Ireland, it is a tradition that we name our giraffe calves after towns and villages in Northern Ireland and Ireland which begin with ‘Bally’. If the calf is male it will be called ‘Ballyrory’ and if female it will be called ‘Ballymena’.”
The Rothschild’s Giraffe is one of the most endangered of the nine subspecies of giraffe, and they are part of a breeding program with the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Belfast Zoo first became home to giraffes in 1988, and since then, 33 calves have been born at the Cave Hill site.
See more photos below the fold.