Zoo's new addition is the height of cuteness

By Yvonne Tahana

The 1.7m as-yet-unnamed giraffe was born on Saturday at 11.10am. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The 1.7m as-yet-unnamed giraffe was born on Saturday at 11.10am. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Auckland Zoo's latest arrival was out and about on her legs yesterday but already has keepers on their toes.

The 1.7m as-yet-unnamed giraffe was born on Saturday at 11.10am, after a labour of less than three hours, to 12-year-old Rukiya - her fastest delivery to date of five live calves.

The female calf was standing within half an hour, with her experienced mother encouraging her newborn to successfully suckle from her the minute the little one could stand - something keepers had not seen at any other birth.

"She's a really gorgeous calf," said Kathryn McKee, a keeper in the zoo's Pridelands section. "And while she's only two days old she's very strong and confident and is already showing us that she has a mind of her own.

"She enjoyed being out with her mum, Rukiya, in the outside yard adjoining her barn for a while this afternoon, and required quite a bit of coaxing to come inside."

Mum was doing well too.

"It's fantastic to see Rukiya doing so well, and we're delighted she has had a female," Ms McKee said. "Dad Zabulu is a Rothschild's giraffe and mum Rukiya is part-Rothschild, so genetically this newcomer is a valuable addition to the Australasian breeding programme."

The Rothschild's giraffe has an estimated wild population of just 670 animals. An additional 450 are in zoos worldwide.

Keepers are working on an African name for the newborn and this will be settled on by next week.

Rukiya and her calf will be gradually integrated with the rest of the giraffes, zebras and ostriches in the giraffe paddock in Pridelands over the next month.

- NZ Herald

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