A three-week-old baby Giraffe made its debut at a Christchurch wildlife park on Tuesday, a month after giraffe baby Jasiri passed away.
Zoo visitors, media and a number of staff packed out a limited viewing section at Orana Wildlife Park to get a glimpse at the new star of the giraffe habitat.
The baby, standing at over six feet tall, was eager to stretch its legs as zoo staff observed the calf overcome initial stage fright, to begin darting around the enclosure.
It’s an uplifting response to the park’s recent giraffe tragedy, when one-year-old calf Jasiri was euthanised on December 15 after being diagnosed with an untreatable bone condition.
Staff said they made the call after consulting worldwide with specialist vets after Jasiri fractured his leg shortly after birth.
According to park staff, the new addition to the giraffe family also had slight complications after birth relating to its feeding.
“Unfortunately, Kamili [the calf’s first-time mother] would not allow the calf to feed,” said Stewart Taylor, the park’s acting Exotic Species assistant manager.
“In consultation with our vet team, we made the decision to transfer the youngster to Rangiora Vet Centre to establish a bottle-feeding regime in their 24-hour care clinic.”
Park vet Ben Davidson said it’s common for mother giraffes in captivity to reject their babies, the calf also struggled with a bout of diarrhea which put him on to IV fluids.
“We were able to take blood tests and monitor him closely, you can’t be too careful with these guys,” said Davidson.
“But you’re looking at a really healthy giraffe. He’s reached all his milestones and done everything he needed to do. Looking at him, he’s putting on the weight he needs to be doing.”
The calf is now guzzling down six litres of fluids a day and has been housed with the rest of the herd - including mother Kamili.
Giraffe keeper Rachael Mason said the late Jasiri was the last giraffe to be born “in a wee while” after more than 20 calves born at the park over the years.
Affectionately referred to as “little man”, the new addition to the herd is yet to be given a name - the naming process changes every time a new baby is born.
“There’s a different process every time, we get bored of our processes so we get creative,” said Mason.
“This one we’ve had some great suggestions through Facebook, we’ll probably do a little poll and see how it goes.”
Mason said the numbers have been strong visiting the exciting new addition to the zoo.
“Who doesn’t want to see a baby giraffe, right?” she said.