Chester Zoo

Baby giraffe kicks up her heels in first outdoor adventure at Chester Zoo

Posted: 6th April, 2024

A rare two-week-old giraffe calf has kicked up her heels on her first outdoor adventure at Chester Zoo.

The leggy newcomer has stepped out for the first time alongside new mum Orla, dad Meru and the other eight Rothschild’s giraffes in the herd.

Zookeepers have revealed the not-so-little-youngster, who already stands at more than 6ft tall and weighs 100kg, to be female and have named her ‘Edie’ (pronounced e-dee).

Named after Lake Edward in Uganda, one of the African Great Lakes, her moniker is inspired by the zoo’s conservation efforts in the country.

Rothschild’s giraffes are one of the world’s most at-risk mammals, with just 2,500 remaining on the planet.

Conservationists at the zoo say Edie is a ‘important addition’ to the international conservation breeding programme, which is working to secure the future of the species.

Sarah Roffe, Team Manager of giraffes at the zoo, said:

“Giraffe calf Edie has spent the last couple of weeks bonding with mum Orla and the rest of the herd in a cosy nest area and, despite getting to her feet within minutes after the birth, her long legs have taken a little time to get used to. But now she’s looking really strong, having already gained 30kg since being born, and so it’s time to head out with the herd.

“It took no time at all before she kicked up her heels and raced outside into the sunshine on her very first outdoor adventure, where she was running in between the legs of the adult giraffes. Having a new youngster in the group always creates a bit of excitement and playful chasing – it is a real joy to watch!

“Edie is an important addition to the international conservation breeding programme in zoos across Europe and will go on to play a role in preventing the extinction of Rothschild’s giraffes, especially as so few remain in the wild.”

The Rothschild’s giraffe has been almost totally eradicated from Kenya, Uganda and Sudan as a result of habitat loss and hunting for their meat. The species now only survives in small, isolated populations – making them one of the most endangered subspecies of giraffe on Earth.

However, a new census carried out in Uganda in 2023 is giving conservationists reason to be optimistic. The new data has revealed that Rothschild’s giraffe numbers in two national parks, where the zoo and its partners are working to safeguard the species, has risen for the fourth consecutive year.

Mike Jordan, Director of Animals and Plants at the zoo, added:

“For nearly a decade we’ve supported our in-country partners, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), with their protection efforts across four national parks in Uganda, Africa, to help safeguard this incredible species.

“This has included the safe translocation of a number of giraffes from one area to another to help boost the genetic diversity of smaller, more isolated populations. Our teams also help on the ground in carrying out an annual census to monitor herds, while our partners provide around the clock veterinary care and remove snares from giraffes that have been targeted by poachers. In the last few years alone, they’ve successfully removed snares from nearly 400 giraffes – that’s more than 15% of the world’s remaining population.

“It’s a huge win for conservation that numbers are now beginning to slowly bounce back, something that is sadly incredibly rare in most species. While we remain optimistic and proud to have helped reversed the decline of these gentle giants, we know that we must continue in our efforts to secure a future where they go on to thrive.”

Related Members