While most kids were excited to find chocolate on Sunday morning keepers at Belfast Zoo in Ireland discovered a Rothschild’s giraffe calf. He was born in the wee hours of the morning to mum Sandsteen (Nicknamed Sandy) and father, Finn.
Zoo Curator, Alyn Cairns said, “We discovered the baby on Sunday morning and Sandy was already doing a fantastic job of cleaning and caring for the newborn calf. Keepers will continue to monitor both mother and calf over the next few days but we are pleased with their progress and we can’t wait for all of the visitors to meet the latest arrival.”
Sandy moved to Belfast from Dublin during 2011. She was hand-raised by keepers at Dublin Zoo due to her mother passing away soon after birth. Finn also moved to Belfast in 2011 from Fota Wildlife Park in Cork, Ireland.
This birth adds to the zoo’s impeccable breeding record as Mark Challis, zoo manager explained, “Sandy came from Dublin Zoo, Finn came from Fota Wildlife Park and now their calf has been born at Belfast Zoo! Belfast Zoo first became home to a giraffe in 1988 and since then we have become renowned for breeding these incredible animals! In fact, 34 calves have been born at the Cave Hill site.”
The zoo maintains a herd of 12 Rothschild’s giraffe including last year’s calf, Ballymena. Mark say’s that they are, “without question, a star attraction!” of the zoo.
A giraffe pregnancy lasts for 15 months. After this the giraffe has a tough entry into the world when it falls 5ft (1.5m) as the mum gives birth standing up. Thirty minutes after birth they are up and walking.
“Rothschild’s giraffe are one of the most endangered of the nine subspecies of giraffe and are part of a European breeding programme. This is a particularly exciting birth as it not only demonstrates the efforts of breeding programmes on a global scale, but in this case on an Irish level,” added Challis.
Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo