By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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Videographer / director: ZooBorns
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Nick Johnson
Editor: Jay Sohrabi
The five-foot tall youngster arrived at 3:20pm on April 3 to eight-year-old mum Orla. Zookeepers named the young female calf Narus after a valley in Uganda’s Kidepo National Park, where conservationists are trying to save the species.
After falling over six feet from her mother into a bed of straw, the giraffe surveyed her new home before taking her first tentative steps.
Sarah Roffe, giraffe team manager, said: “Orla went into labour at around noon and, for a little while, we could just see two spindly legs poking out.
“She’s an experienced mum and a few hours later she delivered the calf safely onto soft straw as the rest of the herd, including her other young Kidepo and Millie, looked on.
“Although it might be quite a drop, and they may fall to the ground with a bit of a thud, it’s how giraffe calves arrive into the world and it stimulates them into taking their first breaths.
“That whole process, from a calf being born to it taking its very first steps, is an incredibly special thing to see.”
All giraffe species are listed as vulnerable to extinction in the wild by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature but Rothschild’s are one of the most threatened.
The Rothschild’s giraffe is one of the world’s rarest mammals and estimates indicate that only 1600 remain in the wild as a result of poaching and habitat loss across Africa - only small, isolated populations survive in Kenya and Uganda.
The calf is the second Rothschild’s giraffe to be born at the zoo in the last six months, following the arrival of male Murchison on Boxing Day.
Narus was born as part of the endangered species breeding programme and conservationists hope that their arrivals will help spotlight the plight of the species in the wild.
Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, said: “Poaching in the wild over the last few decades has led to a 90% decline in wild Rothschild’s giraffe numbers.
“Despite ongoing conservation efforts, the species is really struggling to bounce back as the constant threat of habitat loss continues to push the remaining population ever closer to extinction.
“Right now the zoo is working hard out in Africa on a conservation action plan to ensure that populations don’t fall to an even more critical level. We’ve got to stand tall for these amazing animals.”
Chester Zoo’s giraffe experts are part of an ongoing project to preserve Rothschild’s giraffes in the wild in Uganda. The team is partnered with The Giraffe Conservation Foundation to try and find out why one of the last remaining populations of the species in Kidepo Valley National Park is not increasing.
While wild Rothschild’s giraffes are struggling, this precious calf is giving conservationists new hope that the species can be preserved.
Sarah Roffe added: “Those long legs take a little bit of getting used to but the new calf is doing ever so well, as is mum. She’s an excellent parent and is doing a fantastic job of nursing her new arrival.”