CCTV cameras at Chester Zoo have captured the first moments of the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf.
The five foot tall youngster arrived to mum Orla at 3.20pm on Monday and is yet to be sexed or named.
Zookeepers say that Orla delivered her youngster smoothly following a four-hour labour, bringing an end to her 15-month pregnancy.
The calf is the second Rothschild’s giraffe to be born at the zoo in the space of just four months following the arrival of Murchison on Boxing Day.
Giraffe team manager Sarah Roffe said: “Orla went into labour at around noon and, for a little while, we could see two spindly legs poking out. She’s an experienced mum and a few hours later she delivered the calf safely onto soft straw as the rest of the herd, including her other young Kidepo and Millie looked on.
“Although it might be quite a drop, and they may fall to the ground with a bit of a thud, it’s how giraffe calves arrive into the world and it stimulates them into taking their first breaths. That whole process, from a calf being born to it taking its very first steps, is an incredibly special thing to see.
“Those long legs take a little bit of getting used to but the new calf is doing ever so well, as is mum. She’s an excellent parent and is doing a fantastic job of nursing her new arrival.
“The world may be waiting for April the giraffe to have her calf over in America, but Orla has beaten her to it.”
Conservationists are hoping that both arrivals will throw a spotlight on the plight of the endangered species and the different threats it faces in the wild.
Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the rarest mammals in the world with recent estimates suggesting that less than 1,600 remain.
Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, said: “Poaching in the wild over the last few decades has led to a 90% decline in wild Rothschild’s giraffe numbers.
“Despite ongoing conservation efforts, the species is really struggling to bounce back as the constant threat of habitat loss continues to push the last remaining population ever closer to extinction.
“Right now the zoo is working hard out in Africa on a conservation action plan to ensure that populations don’t fall to an even more critical level. We’ve got to stand tall for these amazing animals.”