Wildlife parks welcomes Fota-genic new baby giraffe

Wildlife parks welcomes Fota-genic new baby giraffe
The new baby female giraffe calf at Fota Wildlife Park. Pic: Darragh Kane

FOTA Wildlife Park has confirmed the latest addition to its herd after a baby female giraffe calf was born last week.

The new arrival landed on Tuesday, April 18, joining the 12-strong herd of Rothschild giraffes currently residing at the park.

The calf is now strong enough to join her mother Sapphire in the giraffe house enclosure, which is visible to the public, for short periods of time.

Born to father Tadhg, the calf is 15-year-old mother Sapphire's sixth. She originally came to Fota from Edinburgh in 2006 and has been sponsored by Joely Campbell from Ayr, Scotland in the time since.

Aidan Rafferty, lead warden of the hoof stock section at Fota Wildlife Park, welcomed the new arrival.

"This young female is a very important addition to our herd and we are delighted that our captive breeding programme run with the European Endangered Species Programme has been such a success as there are fewer than 670 Rothschild giraffes left in the wild.

"We hope that the birth of this little one will help raise awareness of the plight of giraffes as a species."

In 2010, the species was named as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, adding to the growing number of species under threat of extinction worldwide.

Of the nine recognised species of giraffe, it is the second most endangered.

Historically, it ranges across western Kenya, Uganda and southern Sudan, with the vast majority of those in its homerange eliminated. A few small and isolated populations have survived, with 60% of its remaining population currently living in Kenya.

Fota Wildlife Park has been instrumental in facilitating research into the Rothschild's behaviour and ecology in captivity, helping to provide information about key ecological and habitat requirements necessary for the development and implementation of meaningful conservation initiatives.

In the coming weeks, Fota staff expect the new calf to join the herd on the African Savannah paddock, which is also home to ostrich, zebra and scimitar-horned oryx.

The park is appealing to the general public to give the baby giraffe an Irish name.

The winning entrant will be rewarded with a year-long conservation membership to the park, with full details and entry forms available on www.fotawildlife.ie.

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