As fire crews battled the Dunns Creek blaze today, a nearby mother had pressing business of her own.
Sharni, the 11-year-old Rothschild giraffe was due to give birth at Mogo Zoo – fire or not.
At 10.50am on Thursday, September 14, she gave birth to a healthy calf – whose gender remains unknown.
Mogo Zoo owner Sally Padey said Sharni had been “due anytime”.
“At about 9am she started to show signs of imminent birth,” Ms Padey said.
“By 10.50am, we had a little baby on the ground.
“You can’t help them, they are far too big for that,” Ms Padey said.
However, she had a ringside seat, with vet Chantal Whitton and keepers Rob Clifford and Annii Downing.
Some visitors were also unexpectedly in the right spot, when Sharni walked outside.
“They were lucky enough to witness the most incredible thing of a giraffe giving birth,” Ms Padey said.
Sharni has had several calves and Ms Padey has seen many wonderful things in her career, but says she never gets tired of it.
“I am always overwhelmed; I never get sick of it,” she said.
Sharni could have picked a more serene moment than a neighbourhood fire emergency, “but I couldn’t say ‘just wait until all the smoke is over and done with’”.
A suitably fire-themed name may yet be found.
Zookeepers acted early on Wednesday afternoon to put the zoo into lockdown
“It was too close to have to start doing things like that in the middle of the night,” Ms Padey said.
“We had the fire pump by the swimming pool,” she said.
”You always have to think what would happen if the wind changed.”
Ms Padey is anxious for the summer ahead.
“Because there has not been much hazardous reduction, what sort of a summer are we going to have? It is very dry and we have not had a lot of rain.”
Rural Fire Service Superintendent John Cullen has urged landholders to ensure hazard reduction burns, even old ones, have been extinguished.
“You have to make sure things are out,” Ms Padey said.
“Hey, it is common sense.”
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