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Zoo keepers 'thrilled' after 'important' arrival of first giraffe calf in six years at Africa Alive in Kessingland




Keepers at a Suffolk zoo have said they are "thrilled" at the birth of a reticulated giraffe last week – the first at the zoo in six years.

The male calf was delivered without any complications to mother Kibibi at Africa Alive, which is run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia, in Kessingland near Lowestoft on Wednesday.

Kibibi was herself the last giraffe calf born at the zoo on July 26, 2014 to mother Kiara, who came to Africa Alive from Cologne Zoo in Germany.

Giraffe calf born at Africa Alive! in Kessingland. Picture: Africa Alive! (42668128)
Giraffe calf born at Africa Alive! in Kessingland. Picture: Africa Alive! (42668128)

The calf’s father, Jengo came from Amsterdam zoo in The Netherlands, arriving at Africa Alive on the July, 2 2019. This is the first calf for both of the parents.

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.

Giraffe calf born at Africa Alive! in Kessingland. Picture: Africa Alive! (42668120)
Giraffe calf born at Africa Alive! in Kessingland. Picture: Africa Alive! (42668120)

"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.”

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.

There are nine 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 – down 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 UK. The reticulated giraffes at Africa Alive! are part of a European Endangered breeding programme.

Tickets for Africa Alive! can be booked online at https://www.africa-alive.co.uk/

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