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Auckland Zoo welcomes baby giraffe from mum Kiritka

he newborn calf stays close to its mother, Kiritka, in Auckland Zoo's giraffe enclosure. (Photo: Auckland Zoo)

Auckland Zoo's giraffe herd increased by one over the weekend, with the birth of a new calf on Saturday.

After two hours of labour from mother giraffe Kiritka, the calf was born about 9.30pm.

Senior keeper Ben Cosgrove said this was the fifth calf for Kiritka, making her an experienced mother.

He said the zoo keepers kept their distance and watched the birth via CCTV, because in the wild giraffes normally gave birth away from the herd.

"First you see the legs coming out, and then the head, and then it's all just hanging there for a moment. And that's when you're a bit worried, because you think, is Mum stressed, or is she okay? She was backing up to the wall a little bit," he said.

"But actually, it was hot, she was going through labour, so all those things are natural. It's just when you can see it, you'll always be more sensitive to what you're looking at."

Cosgrove said both mother and calf were healthy, and the calf was moving and suckling from her mother soon after the birth.

"About an hour after the birth, she was up and standing. So that was lovely to see. It's incredible when they do stand up straight away, because they're born at pretty much my height - around 170-plus centimetres."

The calf had begun to meet the rest of the herd, and visitors may be able to see her when she is out and about in the coming days.

Cosgrove said the birth was important for giraffe conservation.

"Giraffes are still an endangered species - there's around 117,000 giraffes in the wild today. When you compare that to over 7 billion humans, that's quite a small number."

This weekend's baby calf was born through a regional breeding programme with Australia Zoo.

The last calf born at Auckland Zoo was in August 2022, to the same mother, Kiritka.

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