Belfast Zoo Welcomes Arrival of Rothschild Giraffe Calf

First Posted: Sep 05, 2014 07:18 AM EDT

Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a giraffe calf, which was born after a gestation period of 15 months.

The latest arrival at the zoo is a Rothschild's giraffe calf - born to mother Neja and father Finn. On September 1, the zoo-goers got a chance to witness the birth of the unnamed calf.  In 2013, the zookeepers confirmed Neja's pregnancy. 

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, is delighted with the new arrival. He said, "Keepers were onsite throughout the labour to ensure that everything went smoothly. Since the birth we have been giving the pair time to bond. For that reason, we have not yet had the opportunity to find out what sex the latest arrival is. As we are extremely proud of being the only zoo in Northern Ireland, it is a tradition that we name our giraffe calves after towns and villages in Northern Ireland and Ireland which begin with 'Bally'."

The excited zoo staff has decided that if the newly-born calf is a male, they will baptize it as 'Ballyrory', and if it is a female the calf will be baptized as 'Ballymena'.

Giraffes deliver their young ones by standing and the calf immediately drops to the ground from a distance of about five feet. It is within the span of 30 seconds that the calf stands up and begins exploring its enclosure. It can run for just 10 hours after its birth.

Rothschild's giraffe is listed as the tallest giraffe species. Weighing about 2,500 pounds, they can reach a height of 20 feet. They are characterized with dark and beige patches throughout its body. They are one of the endangered nine giraffe subspecies and are a part of the European Breeding Programme. They live in small herds and mate all year long.

It was in the year 1998 that Belfast zoo first brought a giraffe there and since then they have successfully had 33 calves that were born at the Cave Hill Site.

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