By Suzannah Hills
Keepers at a British zoo have welcomed their newest arrival and despite being just a few days old, this baby giraffe is already towering over them at six-foot tall.
The baby giraffe is the first to be born weighing an impressive 120kilos to Marwell Wildlife's resident giraffe Irsula after a 14-month pregnancy.
Both keepers and visitors to the Hampshire Zoo were lucky enough to witness the birth on Tuesday.
Marwell keeper Ian Goodwin revealed he hadn't even realised Irsula was expecting until she started to put on weight unexpectedly.
He said: 'Irsula came to us from another safari park in July last year and we hadn't been told she was pregnant.
'It was only when a few months later she appeared a bit more rotund that we had our suspicions and we started preparing for a youngster.
'The baby started to make an appearance at 10 o'clock in the morning.
'It's not very often that a baby will be born in the day and both the keepers and visitors were lucky enough to see it.
'We've seen giraffes born here before but every new arrival is just as exciting as the last.
'The birth lasted about three hours. This is the first for Irsula but everything went very well.'
It is not yet known whether the youngster is a girl or a boy as keepers are trying to keep their distance to give the baby a chance to bond with it's mother and the herd.
The baby giraffe tentatively takes his first few steps after only being born a few days ago at Marwell Wildlife
Mr Goodwin said: 'We're trying to keep things as natural as possible so we're not interfering.
'Both the baby and it's mum are doing very well and have joined the rest of the herd.'
The giraffe's are known as Rothchild's giraffe - named after zoologist Lord Walter Rothschild, founder of the National History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire.
The species, native to Kenya and eastern Uganda, is identified by its broader dividing white lines and has no spots beneath the knees.
The Baby giraffe and its mother Irsula have joined other giraffes in an enclosure at the park in Hampshire
The animals are classed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In the past, giraffes were hunted for their tails, which were used as good-luck charms, sewing thread and even fly swats.
The main threat to the species now is loss of habitat and poaching for meat and hides.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
By Suzannah Hills