Our keepers have double cause for celebration after the birth of two strapping six-foot baby giraffes in the space of a fortnight.
The new arrivals, a boy who was born first and a girl, have been named Perseus and Tara.
For experienced giraffe mum Jemima baby Tara was her fourth calf, all of which have been females, while for Perseus’ mum Gertie this was her second calf, both of which have been males.
The new arrivals are the latest success in Longleat’s ongoing breeding programme for Rothschild’s giraffes.
Keeper Beverley Evans said: “We are delighted with the arrival of the two new calves. Both babies are doing well and Jemima and Gertie are proving, once again, to be excellent mothers.
“Although they were born within two weeks of each other both calves have very different characters. Percy is very steady and inquisitive while Tara is quite shy and tends to run around a lot.
“Both of them are out in the main East African Reserve enjoying the sunshine at the moment,” she added.
Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world and, after 15 month pregnancies both Gertie and Jemima gave birth standing up, leaving the babies to negotiate a tricky six-foot drop to the ground.
Far from harming the calves however, this undignified entrance into the world actually helps stimulate the newborn babies to start breathing on their own.
Within hours both youngsters were standing – no mean feat with four long legs to coordinate but vital in the wild to avoid the unwanted attentions of predators on the African savannah.
Fully grown male giraffes can grow to heights in excess of five and a half metres. They can reach speeds of up to 56 kilometres per hour and, in captivity, can live to be 25 years old.
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