Staff at the Perth Zoo are walking tall after the birth of a healthy female giraffe calf today (Friday).
The unnamed calf was born to experienced mother Kitoto at 11:37am (WA time) this morning after a two-and half-hour labour. Both mum and calf are doing well and were bonding behind the scenes in the giraffe nursery, zoo officials said.
Straight after birth, mum was seen licking and grooming her new calf and she was standing and testing her wobbly legs approximately 30 minutes later.
This is the third calf born to Kitoto and bull, Armani, as part of a coordinated effort by Australian zoos to breed these majestic creatures to help fight extinction.
Kitoto was brought to Perth Zoo from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo in 2016 to help expand the genetics within the regional zoological breeding program.
Another zoo giraffe is also pregnant
Perth Zoo’s other adult female giraffe, Ellie, is also pregnant and due to give birth in October.
Giraffe numbers in the wild have suffered a 40 percent population decline in the last 30 years, making zoo breeding efforts more important than ever before.
For the next few weeks, the giraffe herd will spend time bonding with their infant, who stands at 180 centimetres and weighs 55 kilograms.
Even WA Premier Mark McGowan has taken time to express his excitement at the arrival of the tallest kid in the state.
“With fewer than 80,000 giraffe roaming the African Plains, every calf born is important, this new arrival is a cause for celebration for all West Australians,” he said.
Testament to expertise of zoologists
“Perth Zoo are experts at breeding and caring for giraffe and this birth is a testament to the expertise of their zoologists.”
Environment Minister, Amber-Jade Sanderson, weighed in with her own good wishes.
“Congratulations Kitoto, Armani and to all those involved at Perth Zoo,” she said. “Just like any family, the arrival of a newborn is a momentous event and the giraffe herd will need some time to bond with the calf before they introduce their bundle of joy to Zoo visitors.”
While carrying a baby for nine months may seem like long enough for some human mothers, spare a thought for giraffes who have gestation periods of 15 months! According to Monarto Safari Park in South Australia, the 400-470 day growing period makes sure the calf is developed enough to quickly stand up and move around – an important ability when you share your savannah habitat with lots of hungry predators.