INDEPENDENT NEWS

Giraffe Kiri delivers healthy baby 'boy'

Published: Thu 28 Nov 2002 10:51 AM
Giraffe Kiri delivers healthy baby 'boy'
Auckland Zoo giraffe Kiri took it all in her stride yesterday afternoon when she gave birth to a healthy five and half foot baby 'boy' in just under an hour.
Looking out onto CalciYum Giraffe Valley in Pridelands, an enthralled public watched as this relaxed mother moved about and then stood to deliver her baby son, who after being born, took just 30 minutes to find his feet and reach up and suckle from his mum.
"As far as giraffe births go, this went extremely smoothly, was pretty much text-book perfect, and certainly up there with short births," said Auckland Zoo vet John Potter, who was on hand with the Pridelands team to monitor the birth.
Newborn giraffes are usually weaned from their mothers at seven to eight months. In their first two months, mother's milk is their mainstay, though some newborns have been known to start nibbling on leaves as early as eight days of age.
This is the first time a giraffe at Auckland Zoo has been born in a mixed exhibit like Pridelands, which opened in the summer of 1997/98. Along with the giraffes, it is also home to zebra, springbok, and ostrich. It is eight years since a giraffe has been born at Auckland Zoo.
"We had one fairly inquisitive zebra yesterday, but we're not expecting any problems, and will be working to get this newborn happily integrated with the others as soon as possible," says Pridelands team leader Michael Batty.
The Zoo's second adult female giraffe Kay (also pregnant to male Zabulu) and due to give birth any day, so the Pridelands team is especially keen to ensure a 'happy family' environment is maintained.
Along with Kiri, Kay, male Zabulu, and this newborn, Auckland Zoo also has a one-year-old female giraffe Rukiya, who was transported from Wellington Zoo up to Auckland in September. In time she is likely to mate with Zabulu and play her part in increasing the genetic diversity of giraffe in the Australasian region.
With giraffe sponsors CalciYum, Auckland zookeepers are inviting the public to help them come up with a great name for this newborn giraffe.
"We're really keen for it to be an African name - something that has a nice meaning and sounds good, and is easy to say," says Pridelands senior keeper Sam Stephens.
Competition forms for the CalciYum Giraffe Valley Giraffe Naming Competition are available from Auckland Zoo.
The author of the chosen name will win the opportunity to be a 'zookeeper for a day' along with some great product giveaways from CalciYum. The competition will run until 28 December.

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