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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Belfast Zoo gets an early Valentine’s gift as their 40th endangered giraffe calf is born

A Rothschild’s giraffe was born at Belfast Zoo on Sunday 5 February 2022, just in time to celebrate Valentine’s day.

Proud mum Neja gave birth naturally in the early hours of the morning inside the giraffe house.

Keepers report that the female calf is doing well and that Neja is doing a great job. This will be Neja’s fifth calf, and she is taking everything in stride. The mother and daughter have stayed in the giraffe house for a few days together to give them plenty of bonding time.

Ballygeorge, or George for short, is a first-time dad. He has been embracing his role and has been very affectionate with his new daughter.

It is tradition at Belfast Zoo to name giraffes after places beginning with “Bally”. To celebrate the 40th birth of this endangered giraffe at Belfast Zoo and to spread the love on Valentine’s Day they are asking for the public’s help to pick a name.

A shortlist of names has been drawn up by zoo staff and the names will be shared for a vote on the zoo’s Facebook page from Tuesday 14 February.

Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies. Estimates suggest that only around 2,000 remain in the wild, due to illegal hunting for meat and hide and a continuing loss of habitat. Belfast Zoo first welcomed this species in 1988 and this new addition marks their 40th Rothschild’s giraffe calf birth. Sustained conservation action has helped the giraffe population move from ‘endangered’ status to ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List, but Rothschild’s giraffes remain Endangered, with efforts continuing to help support their conservation.

Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said:

“We’re delighted to welcome a new calf to the herd. We first welcomed the Rothschild’s giraffe in 1988 and we’re excited to be celebrating birth number 40! We’re proud to participate in a European breeding programme and collaborate with zoos around the world.”

The new calf is currently on show and can be visited daily. Mother and calf will be monitored by the keeping team and any changes will be announced on social media. The zoo is open from 10am until 4pm (last entry is currently 2.30pm).


About Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoo has over 55 acres to explore and is home to more than 110 different species, most of which are endangered or extinct in the wild. Belfast Zoo takes part in over 60 breeding programmes.

Breeding is carefully co-ordinated through population management guidance and tools.

Breeding programmes for the François langur and the black and white Colobus monkey are coordinated by Belfast Zoo staff. Belfast Zoo has been home to the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe since 1988 and this birth marks the 40th Rothchild’s giraffe born at Belfast Zoo.


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