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19/05/2017

Baby Giraffe Makes Debut At Belfast Zoo

A baby giraffe named Gilbert has been delighting visitors at Belfast Zoo.

Gilbert, an endangered Rothschild giraffe, was born to mother, Daisy and father, Finn, on Sunday 07 May.

The zoo introduced him as part of endangered species day on 19 May.
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Zoo curator, Raymond Robinson, said: "We are proud to be Northern Ireland's only zoo and it has long been a tradition that giraffe calves born here are named after towns and villages in Northern Ireland and Ireland which begin with ‘Bally’. We are delighted to announce that our little calf is a male and has been named Gilbert! Giraffes give birth standing up and the front feet are delivered first, followed by the head, neck and shoulders. The calf falls more than five feet to the ground which doesn't hurt but does cause the calf to take its first big breath. The calf is five to six feet in height at birth, learns to stand within 30 minutes and can run just 10 hours after birth!"

Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, said: "Rothschild's giraffes are one of the most endangered of the giraffe subspecies. While giraffes inhabit savannahs and grasslands across Africa, the Rothschild subspecies only exists in small numbers within protected areas in Kenya and northern Uganda. In fact, some estimates suggest that less than 1600 still remain in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss, factors which are pushing this iconic species ever closer to extinction. We work collaboratively with zoos around the world and take part in a European breeding programme. Since we became home to the species in 1988, we have celebrated the arrival of 34 calves and we are delighted to welcome little Gilbert to the family!"

(CD/MH)

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