Beautiful rare Rothschild giraffe born on Boxing Day at Chester Zoo

Beautiful rare Rothschild giraffe born on Boxing Day at Chester Zoo

A rare Rothschild's giraffe calf born on Boxing Day at Chester Zoo has been described by keepers as "the best Christmas gift."

The six-feet-tall youngster, which is yet to be sexed or named, arrived to first time mum Tula and dad Meru at around 7am and was up on its feet just minutes later.

See also: Giraffes in danger of extinction as population plunges by 40%

See also: Giraffe gets friendly with news reporter


Rothschild's giraffes are one of the most endangered subspecies of giraffe and one of the world's most at risk species. Recent estimates suggest that less than 1,600 individuals remain in the wild, primarily as a result of poaching and habitat loss.

Beautiful rare Rothschild giraffe born on Boxing Day at Chester Zoo

Sarah Roffe, team manager of giraffes at the zoo, said: "Rothschild's giraffes are highly endangered and so the arrival of a new calf is a major cause for celebration. It really is the best Christmas gift we could have ever have wished for.

"Shortly after being born, the calf was up on its feet within minutes, which was really pleasing to see. When it gets a little more used to its long legs it will be introduced to the rest of the herd but, for now, it's important that mum and calf spend a few days together striking up those early bonds.

"This iconic species is often overlooked in Africa and, sadly, Rothschild's giraffes are experiencing a silent extinction. They are very much under threat in the wild, so it's vital that our new calf helps us to throw a spotlight on this amazing species. Hopefully, our not-so-little arrival can generate more awareness of the huge pressures that Rothschild's giraffes face in the wild."

Beautiful rare Rothschild giraffe born on Boxing Day at Chester Zoo

In the last 45 years the population of the Rothchild's giraffes in Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP) in Uganda – where they were once found in large numbers - has reduced by over 90%. A huge part of its decline was due to poaching in the 1990's and since then the population has failed to bounce back as habitat loss continues to threaten their survival.

Earlier this year, Chester Zoo's giraffe experts travelled to Uganda to help project partners, The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), conduct their first ever census on the Rothschild's giraffe species - an attempt to better understand why the population in the national park is not increasing.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo's curator of mammals, added: "Our giraffe keepers have been out to Africa to lend their expertise and knowhow to an extremely important project which is aiming to improve the outlook for the species. Initiatives like this really show the role that modern zoos play in animal conservation and it will give us a better understanding of how we can help protect the species and its future."

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Best ever giraffe photos
A Rothschild's giraffe calf at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, 2013.
The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant. The giraffe's scientific name, which is similar to its antiquated English name of camelopard, refers to its irregular patches of coloir on a light background, which bear a token resemblance to a leopard's spots. The tallest male recorded stood almost 6 metres (20 ft).
A Rothschild's giraffe baby, christened Katja, is pictured next to her mother Katharina at the Opelzoo in Kronberg, January  2014. 
Toronto Zoo introduces their new female Masai giraffe calf, Mstari, November 8, 2013. 
Rosie, the girst giraffe born in Queensland, Australia - in 2013, pictured with her mother Rosie.
Did you know? Giraffe have extraordinarily elastic blood vessels in their neck to help them lean their heads down to drink. This prevents them losing consciousness when they they bend.
Gary Devereaux, the executive chef of London Zoo's caterers, serves a carrot and cabbage canape to a giraffe in ZSL London Zoo, July, 2013.
Kiringo the giraffe stands in his enclosure on March 8, 2013 at the zoo in Duisburg, western Germany. 
Three giraffe take shelter at Sydney Zoo, November 2012. 
Two giraffe play at the zoo in Cologne, western Germany, August 2012. 
A baby giraffe, christened Dorle, stands in the enclosure at the Zoo Friedrichsfelde in Berlin July 2012. 
Jule, a baby Rothschild giraffe, runs in her enclosure at Tierpark Berlin zoo in June 2012.
A caretaker at the Calauit island wildlife sanctuary feeds giraffes with tree leaves in Busuanga, Palawan province, in the western Philippines. Calauit island wildlife sanctuary covers 3,700 hectares and is home to endemic animals and African wildlife.
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