Baby giraffe born on Easter Sunday at Belfast Zoo dies

Baby giraffe born on Easter Sunday at Belfast Zoo dies

A beautiful baby giraffe that was born on Easter Sunday at Belfast Zoo has sadly died.

The unexpected death of the Rothschild's giraffe calf, which was born on Sunday 5 April 2015 to mother, Sandsteen and father, Finn, was a shock for staff.

The calf died on Sunday evening with keepers and the vet in attendance.

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said "This was a shock to all of us. To say we are devastated by this loss would be an understatement. Sandy gave birth to the calf on Easter Sunday and he seemed strong. Despite her lack of experience as a first time mum, she immediately showed strong mothering instincts. However, almost immediately after the birth, we noticed that the calf was not feeding and was struggling to find Sandy's milk. We gave the pair the opportunity to bond but as time continued we realised that it would be necessary for us to intervene and to provide support to both mum and calf."

Belfast Zoo's vet, Michael Griffith continues, "We were able to obtain top quality Jersey cow milk from Clandeboye Estate and were successfully using this to start to hand rear the calf. Unfortunately the calf had picked up an infection at birth and despite receiving medications, last week the calf succumbed to peritonitis (an intestinal infection) on Sunday evening despite intensive treatment."

Zoo manager, Mark Challis, said: "Rothschild's giraffe are one of the most endangered of the nine subspecies of giraffe and are part of a European breeding programme. The loss of the calf is therefore not only a huge blow to the giraffe herd and the Belfast Zoo team, but also to the European breeding programme for this stunning animal.

"Unfortunately death is part of the normal struggle when working with endangered animals but it doesn't make it any easier when we lose a member of the zoo family. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support during this time and we would also like to express our gratitude to the Clandeboye Estate, for their support throughout the calf's life."

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