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13 July 2011, 17:05 | Updated: 13 July 2011, 17:53
A baby female giraffe has been born at Woburn Safari Park.
The birth, which took place in front of amazed visitors, took just over 3 hours and the rest of the herd quickly surrounded the new infant, not only to welcome the calf, but in the wild their formidable presence would protect it from predators.
Giraffe calves are born head and front feet first, which helps to break the fall and the initial bump to earth provides a stimulating jolt to kick-start its lungs and heart.
This is the third calf produced by Danica and fathered by the herd patriarch Casper. Woburn is one of the few collections that allow their giraffes to calve as a social unit with all herd members taking an active interest and learning from the birthing process. This helps younger animals to learn about the birthing process and encourages the natural behaviours you would find in a wild herd.
With only an approximate 600 Rothschild’s giraffe left in the wild, this sub-species is critically endangered and a priority for conservation, therefore every calf is precious.
Woburn has been so successful with its breeding program of these magnificent animals that the herd has trebled in size over the past seven years.
Each year a consecutive letter of the alphabet is used for naming, and this year newborns will be named starting with the letter L. Weighing in at around 150lbs, the newborn will reach her full adult height within only 4 to 5 years.