The first images have emerged of a new-born giraffe arriving at Chester Zoo, which is likely to boost visitor numbers when it is possible to reopen.
Although the calf was born on March 3rd, news and footage of the birth has just come to light. The mother, 13-year-old Orla, was seen on CCTV birthing her offspring in the early hours of the morning.
Already six foot tall, the wobbly-legged infant had a typically eventful entrance to the world, dropping six feet to the ground. This is normal, as giraffes give birth standing up at the end of their 15-month pregnancy.
Explaining the process, Giraffe team manager at the zoo Sarah Roffe said: “Although this seems like a long way, the fall actually breaks the umbilical cord and helps to stimulate the calf’s first breath - it is a dramatic entry but it’s just how they do it!”
The calf joins the eight Rothschild’s giraffes already living at Chester Zoo, helping to preserve an endangered species. There are only around 1,600 in the wild.
When fully grown, the creature will be 18 ft tall and an imposing sight, but visitors to the zoo this year will be fascinated and delighted with the relatively diminutive animal walking with the giants.
Increased visitor numbers will help Chester Zoo raise funds to invest in zoo exhibit design and other facilities. The baby may help, but it is possible large numbers of people will be keen to come anyway just because it will be possible again, as well as out of a desire to help zoos to not just survive the economic effects of the pandemic, but to thrive.
The government’s roadmap out of lockdown in England has set April 12th as the earliest possible date for the second phase of loosening to begin, which will include allowing zoos to reopen.
As in previous periods of restrictions, it is likely this will start with outdoor parts of the zoos opening while indoor sections stay closed for the time being.