December 7 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Staff at a Suffolk zoo have a tall order – to rear a baby giraffe by hand.
A giraffe born at the Africa Alive zoo in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, is being hand-reared by staff, after she was rejected by her mother.
The calf, which has still to be named, is the first of the reticulated sub-species of giraffe to be born at the zoo.
She was found by keepers first thing on the morning of Friday, August 9.
Animal manager Terry Hornsey said: “Although mother Mahiri had licked the calf clean, she was showing no sign of having anything else to do with her calf. But that’s not altogether surprising for a first time giraffe mum.
“Therefore, senior animal management staff took the difficult decision to hand-rear her.
“Having had to do this a few years ago with another giraffe calf, the animal management team, with support from our veterinary team, had the necessary knowledge, experience and patience to deal with the situation and after five days of perseverance the calf was feeding well from the bottle.”
There are nine different sub-species of giraffe. The new baby is a reticulated giraffe.
It has been estimated that fewer than 5,000 remain in the wild (from an estimated 28,000 as recently as the late 1990s).
The reticulated giraffe is one of the more common giraffe sub-species that are kept in captivity, with approximately 450 animals being held in zoos across the world.
Africa Alive’s three reticulated giraffes all arrived in 2011, with Mahiri, the mother of the calf, arriving from Osnabruck zoo and father Kimoni from Duisburg zoo – both in Germany.
They have only just reached sexual maturity, so this is Mahiri’s first calf.
At some point, when she is a bit bigger and stronger, the calf will be re-introduced to her parents and hopefully, will grow into a fine, healthy adult.
Mr Hornsey added: “This is yet another important addition to the park and, hopefully, she will play a crucial role in assisting with the European breeding programme for this species in the future.”
Reticulated giraffes occur only in the arid areas of north and east Africa – in Kenya and in smaller numbers in Somalia and Ethiopia.
They are probably the most distinctively patterned of the nine sub-species of giraffe. This pattern is an adaptation that camouflages them in dense, dry vegetation.
Reticulated comes from the word reticular which means “net-like, or resembling a net”.
Reticulated giraffes are herbivores and are known to browse on more than 100 different species of plants.