Megara, a Kordofan Giraffe at Planckendael, became a first-time mom on January 19. The male calf fell to earth and stood at 1.75 meters tall (5.7 ft). According to keepers, Megara is an excellent mother and has been spending time bonding with her new calf in their warm stable.
The delivery took place at dawn, before the arrival of the keepers, but the birth was captured on the cameras installed in the birthing barn. A Giraffe birth is an extraordinary moment because the baby falls about two meters to the ground and then quickly straightens up on small, fragile legs.
This is the first major newborn of 2017 for Planckendael. This birth also marks the kick-off of giving out names that begin with the letter “S”. (Each year, all newborns at the Zoo are given names that begin with the same letter.) Planckendael will soon announce the new Giraffe’s name.
Gestation for Giraffes is about fifteen months. The bond a mother shares with her calf varies, though it can last until her next calving. Likewise, calves may suckle for only a month, or as long as a year.
Adult males can reach a height of five and a half meters while the females generally reach four and a half meters. They are the largest mammals in the world and yet they have only seven cervical vertebrae, like the human being. Their tongue is also of a unique size: 45 cm long.
When the temperatures are warmer, the young Giraffe will go outside in the savanna exhibit and join the seven members of his herd or ‘tower’: Barbie, Megara, Diamant (Megara’s mother), Panambi, Quasim, Rafiki and Saleye.
Planckendael participates in the European Breeding Programme (EEP). They are also supporters of protecting and preserving the lives of the Giraffes in nature. They are proud supporters of a project in the Garamba National Park in Congo. They provide help in protecting and monitoring the endangered Kordofan Giraffes.
The Kordofan Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum) is a subspecies found in northern Cameroon, southern Chad, Central African Republic, and possibly western Sudan. Historically, some confusion has existed over the exact range limit of this subspecies compared to the West African Giraffe. Genetic work has also revealed that all "West African Giraffe" in European zoos are in fact Kordofan Giraffe.
Compared to most other subspecies, the Kordofan Giraffe has relatively small, more irregular spots on the inner legs. Its English name is a reference to Kordofan in Sudan (also spelled Kordofan, it is a former province of central Sudan).