Rare baby giraffe born at Chester Zoo

CCTV cameras at Chester Zoo have captured the beautiful moment a rare Rothschild's giraffe calf was born – including its first adorable wobbly steps.

The five-foot-tall youngster, which is yet to be sexed or named, arrived at 3.20pm on Monday (3 April) to eight-year-old mum Orla.

See also: Giraffe gets friendly with news reporter

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

Zookeepers say that Orla delivered her youngster smoothly following a four-hour labour; bringing an end to her 15-month pregnancy.

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.

"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.

"The world may be waiting for April the giraffe to have her calf over in America, but Orla has beaten her to it!"

Rare baby giraffe born at Chester Zoo
Rare baby giraffe born at Chester Zoo

The calf is the second Rothschild's giraffe to be born at the zoo in the space of just four months, following the arrival of male Murchison on Boxing Day.

Conservationists at the zoo hope that both arrivals will help to throw a spotlight on the plight of the endangered species and the different threats it faces in the wild. Rothschild's giraffes are one of the world's rarest mammals and recent estimates suggest that less than 1,600 remain.

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, added: "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 last 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."

Rare baby giraffe born at Chester Zoo
Rare baby giraffe born at Chester Zoo

The zoo's giraffe experts are part of an ongoing project in Uganda in Africa, which is aimed at helping and preserving the Rothschild's giraffe in the wild. The zoo's team – working with project partner The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) – is working to better understand why one of the last remaining populations of Rothschild's giraffes in Kidepo Valley national Park is not increasing.