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Giraffe calf born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo welcomed a six-foot-tall giraffe calf to the world last week on what staff are calling a ‘day of hope’.

The female calf, born to mum Luna following a 15-month gestation period, arrived during the early hours of Tuesday 8th December – the same day the first COVID-19 vaccine was given to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan. In recognition of the poignant moment, the baby giraffe has been named Margaret.

Baby giraffe at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Giraffe calves weigh more than the twenty times the average 7lbs human when they’re born, weighing in at around 150lbs.

As giraffes give birth standing up, zookeepers kept a close watch on mum Luna throughout her pregnancy. They prepared a deep layer of bedding when they knew birth was imminent as the youngster had a two-metre distance to cover on arrival!

Baby giraffe with mum Luna at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Giraffes are officially classified as Endangered in the wild. Margaret is a reticulated giraffe and was born as part of the international conservation breeding programme for the species.

Team Leader Mark Holden said, “2020 has been a challenging year for the world, and the arrival of our precious giraffe calf on the same day – and actually at the same time! – as the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccination was first administered feels like a real moment of hope – and one we are so keen to celebrate and remember.

“Here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo we have keenly felt the pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we and our sister site ZSL London Zoo, were forced to close for a total of 16 weeks each, putting huge financial strain on our charity and our global conservation efforts.”

“We very much hope that Margaret Keenan, will be able to come in and visit her namesake one day soon, so we can introduce them in person!”

For further information on visiting ZSL  Whipsnade Zoo go to www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo where you can also find information on donating much needed funds to help look after the animals.

Baby giraffe at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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