Posted: Sat 16th Mar 2024

Chester Zoo cameras capture incredible moment Rothschild’s giraffe calf drops 6ft during birth

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

CCTV cameras captured the incredible moment a Rothschild’s giraffe calf drops from a great height during birth.

Born to the proud mum, Orla, the calf made a grand entrance into the world by dropping from six feet onto a soft bed of straw, a moment captured in the late hours of March 12.

The birth, following a 472-day pregnancy and a three-hour labour, showcased nature’s wonder as the calf, already six feet tall and weighing 70kg, stood and suckled from its mother within just 30 minutes of arrival.

The sex of the two-day-old calf remains a mystery, but expectations are high for its growth, anticipated to reach over 18 feet tall and weigh around 1,000kg.

Zookeeper Rosie Owen, part of the giraffe team at Chester Zoo, shared her excitement and insight into the unique birthing process, emphasising the importance of the dramatic fall in stimulating the calf’s first breath.

Rosie Said: “Giraffes give birth standing up and so they really do enter world in dramatic fashion!  Orla’s calf landed with quite a bump when it fell around six feet onto the floor, but this is totally normal and is actually really important part of the birth process – with the impact from the fall stimulating the calf and encouraging it to takes its very first breath.

“So far mum and baby are doing really well and, at just two days old, they’re spending some quiet time getting to know one another. Orla is an experienced mum, and so we’re seeing all the right signs from her, she’s very nurturing and allows her little one suckle often while giving them little nudges of encouragement – especially as her calf is a little unsteady on its long legs. Said Rosie.

She added: “For many years giraffes underwent a silent extinction across Africa, with their declining numbers flying completely under the radar. But now, thanks to the international conservation breeding programme in zoos, paired with efforts in the wild to protect the remaining populations, numbers are slowly starting to bounce back in Uganda, Africa, where we’re working alongside our partners. Together, we’re helping to create a future where the world’s tallest animal can thrive well into the future. ”

Rothschild’s giraffes, once numbering in the tens of thousands across Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan, now face the brink of extinction, with their population dwindling to an estimated 2,500 due to poaching and habitat loss.

This dramatic decline has prompted the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list the species as vulnerable, signaling a high risk of extinction.

Chester Zoo’s contribution to the giraffe’s conservation extends beyond the birth of this calf. In collaboration with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the zoo is actively involved in on-ground efforts in Uganda to monitor and protect the giraffe population, which has seen an increase for the fourth consecutive year thanks to these dedicated conservation efforts.


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