Chapter one - Finding her feet
Nuru the giraffe was born just moments ago.
Raising her head, a little dazed and very damp, she flicks her ears and blinks at her new world. Within seconds she’s met by the purple tongue of Mum persuading her up onto her feet. This seems pretty scary, she’s never used these long spindly legs before - but she better give it a try. After a couple of goes - and a lot of encouragement - she's up!
And down again.
These legs are going to take some getting used to.
Several failed attempts later, with repeated nudging from an insistent Mum, Nuru finally makes it to her hooves - and manages to stay there. It’s important she’s up on her feet quickly - on the ground, unable to kick, it’s a vulnerable a place for a new giraffe calf.
She’s a perfect miniature of Mum, from the long tuft of black hair at the end of her tail, to her speckled orange coat, to her giant, orb-like eyes. The only difference is that her fluffy horns are flat on her head while Mum’s stick up.
Even though she’s only just been born, Nuru is already tall enough to see over the high grasses that surround her. She looks around enjoying sunshine for the first time.
The grass is alive with the sound of crickets, a frog croaks sleepily from a nearby watering hole, songbirds chatter from the treetops and the Sun is nudging its way into the sky from the horizon. The savannah is beautiful. It’s golden grasses gleam in the sunlight, metres away tens of stripy zebras munch their way slowly across the landscape.
On shaky legs, Nuru totters over to Mum and takes her first delicious glug of milk. It’s a good thing it’s so tasty because she’s going to need a lot of it if to grow into a full-sized giraffe.
Mum peers down at Nuru through her legs, then another giraffe’s face lowers from the other side. More legs appear all around her, tall and straight as tree trunks. One by one, their gigantic orange heads lower to get a good look at the new calf.
They begin licking her, just like Mum. They must be her family.
Over the next few days there’s a lot of licking and bonding for the family group. During breaks from this Nuru begins to get used to her new legs. After a few tumbles she’s trotting through the dust with ease, always with Mum and one of her aunts following closely behind.
One day Nuru is exploring a nearby bush when, suddenly, she spots a pair of giant, golden eyes. What is that?
Something moves behind her. She turns. Springing from the grass, a giant, golden lion. Claws and teeth glint in the sunlight.
Mum is here. She kicks the lion mid-air with one of her powerful legs sending it flying.
The first lion, the one from the bush, is snarling, staring at Nuru hungrily. Mum charges at it and it runs. A single lion is no match for a mighty adult giraffe.
The herd arrive forming a close circle around Nuru. They shake their heads and stamp their feet menacingly, but the lions don’t attempt another attack - they know when they’ve met their match.
Nuru watches them flee across the savannah - one limping from Mum’s kick.
It might be best to stick close to Mum for a little while. The savannah’s a dangerous place for any newborn, although having giants for family certainly helps.
Watch out for chapter 2 coming soon!
Select a blog
Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.