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Tall order doubled

Tall order doubled

Christmas has come early for Auckland Zoo, with two baby giraffes born within just days of each other.

Following in the ‘hoofsteps’ of mum Kiri's delivery of a male calf last week, the Zoo's second adult female Kay gave birth earlier this week to a healthy baby 'boy' at Calci Yum Giraffe Valley in Pridelands.

In the privacy of a back yard, Kay made even quicker work of the delivery than her companion Kiri (who delivered in 45 minutes), bringing a slightly taller, and lighter, more caramel-coloured son into the world in less than half an hour.

Both mums are well over 4 metres tall. Giraffes give birth standing up and newborns need to be 1.8 metres (6ft) to be able to reach up and suckle from their mothers. These two met, and in Kay's son's case, even exceeded this height.

The Zoo's only adult male Zabulu is the father of the two baby calves, which brings Auckland Zoo's giraffe herd up to six, with an equal split of males and females. The Zoo's third female is Rukiya, who was transported up from Wellington Zoo in September. In the future she is also likely to mate with Zabulu.

The two newborn males will in time play a valuable role in increasing the genetic diversity of the Australasian region's giraffe breeding programme.

"Kiri's son in particular will be sought after, as Kiri's line is not well represented, so it's important that her son gets out and perpetuates her line," says Prideland's’ senior keeper Sam Stephens.

As for the dynamics of having two young males, Sam says in their juvenile stage the public will be able to observe these two youngsters necking and play sparring.

"It's a way of testing out each other's strength for later serious fights, and in the giraffe world, a perfectly natural way of sorting out herd hierarchy."

At present Kiri and her son are out in Calci Yum Giraffe Valley for several hours each morning, and are slowly being integrated with the other giraffe, zebra, ostrich and springbok.

Kay and son are still bonding, and being just a few days old, this newborn is still finding his feet, so it may be several days before members of the public are able to catch a glimpse of him.

It is eight years since a baby giraffe has been born at Auckland Zoo.


Zoo keepers have nicknamed the two new arrivals Bob and Bob2 while they wait on the results of a baby giraffe naming competition being run by giraffe sponsors Calci Yum. The keepers are very keen for a couple of great African names.

African names with appropriate meanings are being sought, and people can enter by visiting www.calciyum.co.nz or www.aucklandzoo.co.nz, writing to the Zoo, or bringing their suggestion to the Visitor Centre if visiting the Zoo before the close-off date. Winners of the chosen names will win the opportunity to be a keeper for a day and also receive Calci Yum goodies. Winners will be announced by Suzy Cato at the Zoo's Christmas Party on Saturday, 21 December (5pm-9pm). There will also be a fun prize draw for participants.

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