Birth of a giraffe calf

In early evening of Friday, May 3 our Rothschild giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) Pauline delivered her second calf. The giraffe group had been returned to its building in late afternoon after Pauline had started showing the first signs of an imminent calving. The birth went perfectly well and around 11 pm the calf was standing, ready to suckle.

Named Remi after a keeper who retired at the beginning of this year after 14 years spent in the giraffe section, the calf is doing well. This is the 26th giraffe birth at the zoo. Remi and his mother will be allowed to go out as soon as the calf is strong enough and weather will permit. In the meantime, both giraffes can be seen through the glass of their building.

Even though giraffe births are relatively common in zoos, they are still a remarkable event for the park where it occurs. First, because the tallest terrestrial mammal has very unique characteristics. Secondly, because the calf has been expected for a very long time: giraffe moms are pregnant for about 14 to 15 months!

Because of their dramatic decline in Africa due to habitat loss and poaching, giraffes are now listed as a “Vulnerable” species even if population trends differ depending to the subspecies. 9 are currently identified, mostly distributed in about 20 countries in southern and eastern Africa. Their population size varies considerably: 2 subspecies represent almost half of the giraffes living on the African continent, while the other 7 live in scattered populations, some counting less than 1,000 individuals.

Rothschild’s giraffe status was recently reassessed from “endangered” to “near threatened”. Numbers have indeed increased but with a little more of 1,600 counted individuals the subspecies remains in a precarious situation: the potential for dispersal between sites and the capacity for expansion are limited.

F. Perroux