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Endangered giraffe born at Belfast Zoo

Date: 14 Apr 2016

Rothschild’s giraffe

Visitors got a surprise at Belfast Zoo when they witnessed the birth of an endangered Rothschild’s giraffe calf.

The latest arrival to the herd was born to mother, Neja and father, Finn.

After a gestation period of approximately 15 months, keepers noticed that Neja was displaying signs of labour on Tuesday morning. They carefully monitored the situation and eventually Neja gave birth to a healthy calf, in the outdoor area, in front of delighted visitors.

Senior keeper, Peter Cross, witnessed the arrival of the latest calf, “We were on site throughout the birth to monitor the situation and to ensure that everything went smoothly. Neja gave birth outdoors with the rest of the herd and to the delight of many zoo visitors, who got to witness the event. Giraffes give birth standing up and the calf falls more than five feet to the ground. The calf learns to stand within 30 minutes after birth and can run just 10 hours later. Since the birth, we have been giving mother and calf time to bond, so we have not yet had the chance to find out what sex the latest arrival is. Belfast Zoo first became home to giraffe in 1988 and this is the 35th calf to be born at Cave Hill and Neja and Finn’s third calf, showing the success of our conservation efforts.”

Peter continues, “We are very proud of our Northern Ireland heritage and it has become a tradition for calves, born at Belfast Zoo, to be named after towns and villages in Northern Ireland which begin with ‘Bally’. Neja’s last two calves, for example, were named Mena and Foyle. Once we know what sex the arrival is, keepers will pick a name.”.

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said “This is an exciting time in the giraffe house with the arrival of our latest calf but we are also delighted to announce that we will soon be launching our brand new giraffe experiences! These experiences will take place every Saturday and Sunday between April and September and will allow visitors to spend 30 minutes behind the scenes with the giraffe keepers and to get the chance to feed the giraffe herd! For more information or to find out how to book, email us on

You can see more photos of all of the latest arrivals on our facebook page.

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