Rare Rothschild giraffe calf takes first steps outside

A new baby Rothschild giraffe as taken his first steps outside at Chester Zoo.

The beautiful animal, called Murchison, was born on Boxing Day to mum Tula, who encouraged him on his debut.

See also: Beautiful rare Rothschild giraffe born on Boxing Day at Chester Zoo

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

The zoo shared the lovely video of Murchison on their Facebook page to the delight of many users. One wrote: "He's soooooo cute, amazing watching him take his first steps outside! Love the way Mum is keeping her eye on him and following him back indoors to give him a nudge."

Speaking to the Chester Chronicle, Chester Zoo giraffe team assistant manager Fiona Howe said: "It's great to see the reactions of people when they see Murchison strutting his stuff for the very first time.

"Hopefully that excitement will lead to them wanting to learn more about these gentle giants. They are facing a silent extinction in their native habitat and there needs to be much more awareness of this.

"If the high levels of poaching and habitat loss continue as they are, it is entirely possible that giraffes could become extinct in the wild in a generation.

"And once they're gone, they're gone for good. We must do all we can to ensure this doesn't ever happen."

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.

Indeed, in the last 45 years the population of the Rothschild'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.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo's curator of mammals, said: "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."