‘King’ Among Giants Born at Whipsnade Zoo

1_Newborn giraffe at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (c) ZSL (2)

Zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are still celebrating the recent birth of a giant.

A Reticulated Giraffe was born to first time mum, Luna, and dad, Bashu, on April 26. The new male calf 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.

2_Newborn giraffe at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (c) ZSL (1)

3_Newborn giraffe at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (c) ZSL (7)

4_Newborn giraffe at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (c) ZSL (9)Photo Credits: Zoological Society of London

ZSL team leader, Mark Holden, explained, “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 7 lb. human when they’re born, weighing in at around 150 lbs. 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…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 should be able to spot him stretching his legs…!”

The Giraffe is the tallest animal in the world. Males reach a towering 19 feet tall and weigh between 2400 and 4250 pounds. Females measure up to 17 feet tall and weigh between 1540 and 2600 pounds.

Giraffes have the same number of bones in the neck as humans – seven. Valves in their neck prevent blood rushing to the head when they bend down to drink. Babies stand at about two meters at birth – their horns lie flat at birth and pop up several days later.

Giraffes eat mainly acacia leaves but also shoots, fruits and other vegetation.

In the wild, Reticulated Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) are confined to northeastern Kenya, eastern Sudan and Eritrea. Reticulated Giraffes are the most distinctively patterned of the eight subspecies of Giraffe. Their coat has brown, regular, box-like patterns (called a reticulated pattern). White spaces between the patches form narrow lines. This elaborate pattern is good camouflage in dense, dry vegetation.

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