Zookeepers are celebrating the birth of a giant this week – after welcoming a baby giraffe to the herd at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
The reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) was born to first time mum Luna and dad Bashu at midday on Friday 26 April and has been named Khari, which means ‘King-like’ in Swahili, because of his regal-looking ossicones - the tiny crown-like horns on a giraffe’s head.
Born as part of the European Breeding Programme (EEP) for the Endangered species, the adorable calf already stands head and shoulders above most of the residents at the UK’s largest zoo – hovering at almost six-feet tall.
ZSL team leader Mark Holden, explains: “First-time mum Luna is doing a sterling job of looking after Khari - positively doting on her new arrival, while feeding and cleaning him regularly.
“However, the birth was definitely a family affair; Dad Bashu was rubbing Luna’s neck encouragingly during her four-hour labour, while grandmother Ijuma helped to clean the youngster after the birth - and they’ve all since continued to be very involved in Khari’s care.”
Giraffe calves weigh more than the twenty times the average 7lbs human when they’re born, weighing in at around 150lbs at birth.
Giraffes also give birth standing up, meaning their calves make an epic entrance into the world: falling six feet, hooves first to the ground, before learning to walk within an hour.
“Khari is a very confident calf, just like his father, Bashu, and is very inquisitive about his new surroundings - he’s spent the past week tottering around the Giraffe House exploring every inch of his new home.
“Under his parents' watchful gaze, Khari has even started to tentatively venture outside, so lucky visitors might be able to spot him stretching his legs as early as this weekend – just in time for the bank holiday!”
Visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to visit our giraffe herd this bank holiday weekend.