Auckland Zoo is “very excited” after its giraffe Kiraka gave birth to a healthy calf on Saturday. The calf’s dad is Billy, who lives in the same enclosure.
Speaking to 1News, the zoo’s ungulate keeper Georgie Byrne said this is Kiraka’s fifth calf so the birth was seamless.
“We were all quite confident in her abilities of what she’s doing and the calf is thriving, doing really, really awesome, so we’re absolutely stoked with how it’s going.”
Asked how the calf’s arrival rates, Byrne said: “It’s the best. I’ve worked with a few giraffe calves at this stage in my career but it never gets old. It’s always exciting, it’s awesome, so I feel very privileged to be around it.”
The herd at Auckland Zoo now stands at six, and Byrne said they’re all related in some form.
“So we’ve got Billy’s grandmother, therefore the youngster’s great grandmother, and Kiraka’s other daughter, so there’s a nice family link between the whole herd which is really, really nice.”
Asked if there are plans to continue breeding giraffes at Auckland Zoo, Byrne said any breeding plans will come through a recommendation from the Australasia breeding programme.
“Basically, it’ll be a case of see what happens really, if we do get any recommendations to do so.”
She also said the giraffes at the zoo are part of an advocacy programme, “So that basically just means that by people coming to the zoo, falling in love with them the same way that we do as keepers just means that it’s showing support for these guys, when anyone that comes to the zoo supports our conservation fund which directly helps giraffe in the wild.”
Yesterday Auckland Zoo ungulates team leader, Tommy Karlsson said: “It was a very smooth labour and a textbook delivery by Kiraka, that the team and I had the privilege of viewing from our camera monitoring system before going into the giraffe house to continue monitoring them.
“It’s been a long 15-month pregnancy for Kiraka during which time she put on an extra 100kg and, with this recent heat and humidity, we’ve no doubt she was very pleased to be finally giving birth.”
Kiraka and her calf are staying inside the giraffe house but they may venture into the outdoor yard so visitors can catch a glimpse of the zoo’s newest addition.