Leap year baby giraffe at Whipsnade
Tuesday 7 March 2000
HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THE REST
Visitors to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park may be surprised to find the Park’s latest youngster looking down on them. On the morning of 29 February, the keepers were delighted to find a new-born male giraffe snuggled up in the straw - and already nearly six feet tall. Named ‘Jamie’ by the keepers, this calf is the third to be born to Mum, Josie. Both mother and calf are doing well. Now, at one-week-old, the youngster is getting inquisitive and is very interested in the shorter humans who are coming to pay him a visit.
Jamie’s mother and father, Josie and Dirk, came to Whipsnade from Holland in 1989. Dirk has since moved to another animal collection in France, after siring a number of calves at Whipsnade. As Jamie becomes more independent he will be introduced to the rest of the herd, including sister Steffi (whose birth was shown on the tv programme ‘Animal Hospital on the Hoof’ in 1996), brother Marcus and half-brother Edmund.
The giraffes at Whipsnade are reticulated giraffes, which are well-known for their bold, defined coat patterns. Reticulated giraffes have experienced some poaching in the wild, for their tail hair which is used to make bracelets for the tourist trade.
When giraffes are born, the mother is usually usually standing so the calf will drop about two metres to the ground. This sudden jolt into existence, far from harming the calf, actually helps stimulate it to breathe. Baby giraffes can stand within a few hours of being born - some feat when you consider that they have four extra-long legs to control. Although still prone to the occasional wobble, Jamie is quickly getting the hang of walking, and it is hoped that he will be making his first playful explorations of the outside enclosure before long.
For further information/photography, please contact:
Whipsnade Wild Animal Park Tel: 01582 872 171
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