Flamingo Land is celebrating the birth of a Rothschild’s giraffe.
The female calf was born in the early hours of Sunday March 22 and was on her feet almost immediately, something that would be vital in the wild. However, for her first 10 days she stayed indoors in the giraffe house and wasn’t visible to the public.
She has now taken her first steps outdoors and so from now on should be a regular sight for visitors.
The little girl, who is not yet named, was born to mum Lizzy and dad George. She is their second calf and her older sister Pixie can be seen with the same herd.
She also has two half brothers, who share the same father but have different mothers. One of these boys has already left Flamingo Land for a new home and the other will be on his way shortly, as George would not tolerate the presence of another adult male in his herd.
The new arrival started life with a two-metre drop to the ground, as giraffes give birth standing up. She is already as tall as an adult human and will grow up to another two metres by the time she’s a year old. Adult giraffes are between five and six metres tall, with males generally taller than females. Coat patterns in giraffes can be quite variable but Rothschild’s giraffes can usually be recognised by the lack of any markings on the lower part of their legs, making them look like they have white socks. A young giraffe will be weaned at about a year old but will stay with its mother for almost two years.
Giraffes are found in savannah, open woodland (particularly acacia, which is their preferred food) and grassland. They use their tongue to tear leaves from trees and can eat more than 100kg of leaves in a day. They get most of the moisture they need from their diet but will drink water every couple of days if it’s available. Giraffes are quite sociable animals and form herds, although membership of a herd is always changing as individuals move about.
Rothschild’s giraffes are endangered, mainly due to habitat loss and poaching.
In the past giraffes were often killed for their tails, which were used to make fly swats, good luck charms and thread for sewing. Nowadays they are illegally hunted for their meat and hides.