Keepers at Africa Alive! in Suffolk, which is run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia, were pleasantly surprised when they arrived to work on Wednesday 7 October to the birth of a reticulated giraffe – the first at the zoo in six years. The male calf was delivered without any complications to mother Kibibi, who is already proving to be an excellent mother, with this being her first calf.
Kibibi was the last giraffe calf born at Africa Alive! on 26th July 2014 to mother Kiara, who arrived at Africa Alive! from Cologne Zoo in Germany. The calf’s father, Jengo came from Amsterdam zoo in The Netherlands, arriving at Africa Alive! on the 2nd July 2019. This is the first calf he has sired.
The female giraffe has a gestation period of approximately 15 months. She will normally just have one calf at a time (twins are rare) and can have up to eight in her lifetime. The mother gives birth standing up, so when born, the baby giraffe falls seven feet to the ground. Calves are approximately six feet tall at birth and they can grow up to nine inches during the first month of their life and continue to grow at a phenomenal rate during the first year of their life.
Gary Batters, Joint Managing Director, said: “I have seen many giraffe calves during my zoo career but I never fail to be excited to see another one. They are such wonderful animals and this is an important addition to the European Breeding Programme for this subspecies.
The calf will be on public view from Tuesday 13 October but there will be a need to meet COVID restrictions within the giraffe house, so there may be some queueing required.”
There are 9 different sub-species of giraffe, one of which is the reticulated giraffe which can be found in the wild in the arid areas of North and East Africa. With an IUCN Red List status of ‘Endangered’, it has been estimated that fewer than 11,000 mature individuals were known to be living in the wild at the end of 2018 (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 160 animals being held in 54 zoos across Europe and the U.K. The reticulated giraffes at Africa Alive! are part of a European Endangered breeding programme.
The keepers at Africa Alive! are thrilled about the birth and with the giraffe calves being so ungainly and cute, it would be well worth the effort visit the park to see him.