MOGO Zoo visitors were treated to the rare sight of an endangered Rothschild giraffe experiencing the first stages of labour on Thursday afternoon.
Following the miraculous public display, Shani retreated to the comfort of her night house where she gave birth to a healthy female calf measuring an astounding 1.8 metres.
The yet-to-be-named calf weighed about 120kg and was born at 12.57pm following a one-and-a-half-hour labour in view of the visiting public.
Within 15 minutes of her birth, the calf made its first attempts to stand and, within 40 minutes, she took her first awkward steps.
At about 2pm keepers and zoo visitors witnessed the calf suckling for the first time.
Shani, now an experienced third-time mother, has bonded extremely well with her newborn and, shortly after the birth, gently shuffled her calf over to the adjoining savannah fence where the remaining members of the giraffe herd were eagerly awaiting an introduction to the new addition.
Zoo general manager John Appleby said the zoo was proud to announce the birth of its third pure Rothschild giraffe in three years.
“Mogo Zoo already plays a major role in the global breeding program for this endangered subspecies, and with the recent introduction of the zoo’s newest breeding female from Melbourne Zoo, Tanzi, I am confident that our participation and success in this program will continue to grow,” he said.
The birth was strangely reminiscent of events surrounding the birth of the zoo’s first giraffe, in 2010.
This birth also occurred on January 24 at a similar time in the afternoon and at the same location.
This time, as the afternoon crowds once again gathered, zoo staff cordoned the area surrounding the giraffe night house yards where Shani gave birth in order to create a protective barrier from the public.
Rothschild giraffes are the second-most endangered giraffe subspecies; only a few hundred remain in the world today.
The recent birth will play a modest but essential role in securing the future of this subspecies – the calf is believed to be the 14th pure-bred Rothschild born in the Australasian region in the past 20 years.