Staff at West Midland Safari Park are celebrating the birth of two Rothschild’s giraffes — one of the rarest sub-species of giraffe in the world.
The exciting new youngsters, standing at six feet tall, are the first successes of a breeding programme for Rothschild’s giraffe, put in place with the arrival of five adults three years ago.
The first news came on 9th August when, after a pregnancy lasting 15 months, five-year-old Bwindi gave birth to the first new arrival. Within 20 minutes, the not-yet-named baby boy had managed to co-ordinate his four long legs and was standing — a vital stepping stone for all giraffes in the wild.
Giraffes give birth standing up, so the second cute youngster arrived with a bump on 4th September. Mum, five-year-old Akacia, went straight to work, attentively cleaning her newborn baby girl and encouraging her to stand.
The news has given a boost to world-wide giraffe conservation efforts. Rothschild’s giraffes used to roam in large numbers across the plains of Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, but it is thought that there are fewer than 2,500 individuals left in the wild today.
Deputy Head of Ungulates, Lisa Watkins said, “This is fantastic news not only for the park, but also for Rothschild’s giraffe conservation. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) lists them as ‘endangered’ and with numbers declining every day, due to habitat loss and poaching, we hope that our adorable leggy newcomers will help highlight the very real danger the species faces.”
She added, “It’s absolutely brilliant to have two healthy babies — the staff are so pleased. Whilst the babies find their feet, the public will be able to view them in the giraffe yard, but we hope that they will soon be roaming the safari, weather dependent. Both mums and babies are doing well and I’m sure dad, five-year-old Rufus, will be keeping his eyes on them when they are out and about, causing mischief.”
Although the new babies are less than a month old, they are already taller than most of their keepers, but still have a lot of growing to do — giraffes are the tallest land animal, reaching a height of up to five metres.
West Midland Safari Park is home to a small herd of Rothschild’s giraffes, introduced three years ago with the arrival of four females from zoos around Europe and male Rufus, from Flamingo Land in Yorkshire. Keepers hope that the success of these births bodes well and they can look forward to welcoming some brothers and sisters in years to come.
The giraffes can be seen in the four-mile self-drive safari, included in the standard admission charge of £22 for adults, £17 for children aged 3-15 years and £20 for concessions. Children under the age of 3 years are admitted free of charge and admission includes a free-return ticket. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.
Further information is available from the park’s official website, www.wmsp.co.uk, or by telephone on 01299 402114. You can follow the progress of the baby giraffes on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: http://www.wmsp.co.uk/facebook
To view footage of one of the giraffe births, click here.