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WATCH: The joyous moment a rare Rothschild’s giraffe is born at Chester Zoo

  • CCTV captures birth of a Rothschild’s giraffe as it drops from a great height

  • New mum Orla safely delivers the huge six-foot tall and 70kg youngster onto soft straw following 472 day pregnancy and three-hour labour

  • Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the world’s most at risk mammals with 2,500 remaining in the wild

  • New arrival is special addition to endangered species breeding programme working to safeguard their future

  • Giraffe numbers in Uganda, Africa are slowly increasing thanks to the zoo and its in-country partners

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The birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe has been captured by CCTV cameras at Chester Zoo

The world's tallest mammal has been born at Chester Zoo – with the special moment captured live on CCTV cameras.

The leggy newcomer arrived into the world to new mum Orla, with the joyous scene captured by the zoo’s CCTV cameras, at 11:30pm on Tuesday 12 March.

Footage shows the calf falling from a height of six feet onto a bed of soft straw following a 472 day pregnancy and a labour lasting more than three hours.


The youngster can then be seen stumbling to its feet and suckling from mum for the first time – all within just 30 minutes of being born. 


Zookeepers are yet to determine if the two-day old is male or female and have said the calf already weighs more than 70kg and stands at 6 foot tall – but will grow to be more than 18 foot tall and weigh 1,000kg.

Rosie Owen, who is a zookeeper on the giraffe team and was one of the first to see the new arrival, said:

“Giraffes give birth standing up and so they really do enter world in dramatic fashion!  Orla’s calf landed with quite a bump when it fell around six feet onto the floor, but this is totally normal and is actually really important part of the birth process – with the impact from the fall stimulating the calf and encouraging it to takes its very first breath.

“So far mum and baby are doing really well and, at just two days old, they’re spending some quiet time getting to know one another. Orla is an experienced mum, and so we’re seeing all the right signs from her, she’s very nurturing and allows her little one suckle often while giving them little nudges of encouragement – especially as her calf is a little unsteady on its long legs.

“For many years giraffes underwent a silent extinction across Africa, with their declining numbers flying completely under the radar. But now, thanks to the international conservation breeding programme in zoos, paired with efforts in the wild to protect the remaining populations, numbers are slowly starting to bounce back in Uganda, Africa, where we’re working alongside our partners. Together, we’re helping to create a future where the world’s tallest animal can thrive well into the future. ”

Tens of thousands of Rothschild’s giraffes were once found in Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, however their population has suffered a 90% decline in recent years as a direct result of poaching and habitat loss.


With just 2,500 estimated to remain across the whole of Africa, and the last major stronghold now in Kenya and Uganda, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the species as vulnerable - which means it faces a high chance of becoming extinct in the future.


Experts at the zoo are currently working on the ground in Uganda alongside its in-country partners, The Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Authority, to help monitor and safeguard the animals in the wild. This vital work has now seen the population increase for the fourth consecutive year thanks decades of conservation efforts.

Rothschild’s giraffe facts:

  • Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the most endangered of the nine sub-species of giraffe

  • They are named after zoologist Lord Walter Rothschild, founder of the National History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire

  • The species is identified by its broader dividing white lines and has no spots beneath the knees

  • Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the Rothschild’s giraffe has been almost totally eliminated from much of its former range and now only survives in a few small, isolated populations Uganda and Kenya

  • Research suggests that 2,500 Rothschild’s giraffes now remain in the wild

  • Roughly one-third of the surviving population of Rothschild’s giraffes live in zoos where carefully co-ordinated breeding programmes are creating a safety-net population for the species

  • The main threat to the species now is loss of habitat and poaching for meat and hides

  • In the past, giraffes were hunted for their tails, which were used as good-luck charms, sewing thread and even fly swats

  • Predators to the Rothschild’s giraffe include hyenas, lions, crocodiles and leopards


About Chester Zoo  

  • Chester Zoo ( is a world-leading conservation and education charity that’s committed to preventing extinction and dedicated to raising awareness of key conservation and environmental challenges.  

  • The zoo’s 128-acre site in Chester, which is home to more than 27,000 animals and more than 500 species, is where this species-saving work is made possible.  

  • As a not-for-profit, the zoo ploughs everything into its conservation mission, both here in the UK and around the world.  

  • It works with more than 3,000 species globally, including 140 international animal conservation breeding programmes, which are ensuring the survival of species on the very brink of extinction. It’s also home to five national plant collections, comprising of more than 1,000 species.  

  • Experts from the zoo are recognised by governments and NGOs across the world as leaders within the global conservation community. Currently, the zoo is saving species on behalf of the Bermudan, Spanish and Portuguese governments, among others.  

  • The zoo works with over 100 partners in more than 20 countries to recover threatened wildlife and restore habitats, including orangutans in Bornean rainforests, elephants and tigers in Indian grasslands, lemurs and frogs in Malagasy forests, rare fish in Mexican lakes and a host of species here in the UK.  

  • The zoo influences policy both in the UK and internationally, engaging with governments worldwide to take action to halt the biodiversity crisis.  

  • It’s millions of annual visitors and huge online communities are part of the educational, scientific and conservation jigsaw, empowering them to be part of solutions for wildlife, creating a future where nature can survive and thrive.  

  • Chester Zoo lives and breathes conservation – from its animal and plant care, to its scientific breakthroughs, to its policy work and its vital role in inspiring and educating people about the natural world and the impact humans have on it – creating and nurturing the conservationist in us all. 

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