Keepers at Africa Alive in Suffolk, which is run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia, were absolutely over the moon to welcome the second birth in under a month of a reticulated giraffe calf. The female calf was delivered without any complications on Friday 23 October at around 5:30pm.
Although this is mother Kiara’s second calf, for the first three days following the birth, keepers were not convinced that she was letting the calf feed properly, so took the decision to supplement the feed using gold-top milk. However, she now appears to be back on track and is once again proving to be an excellent mother.
This is the second birth at the zoo in under a month, with a male reticulated giraffe calf being born just 17 days prior to mother Kibibi. Prior to these two new calves, Kibibi was actually the last giraffe born at Africa Alive! on 26th July 2014 to mother Kiara. This new addition makes Kiara both a mother and grandmother at the same time.
Kiara arrived at Africa Alive! from Cologne Zoo in Germany, whilst father Jengo came from Amsterdam zoo in The Netherlands, arriving at Africa Alive! on the 2nd July 2019.
Terry Hornsey, Africa Alive’s! Animal Manager said: “The birth of a giraffe is always good news, but two being born so close together is fantastic news for all the keepers and staff at Africa Alive.
“The keepers have shown incredible patience, dedication and expertise since the female calf was born, ensuring that she has still been able to get the nutrients she needs through supplement feeding, whilst at the same time, encouraging mother Kiara to allow her new calf to feed naturally. The calf is now looking much stronger and is feeding properly from her mother.”
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 recent births and with the giraffe calves being so ungainly and cute, it would be well worth the effort visit the park to see them.