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Keepers' delight at first birth of Rothschild giraffe at Port Lympne Reserve for eight years

By Matt Leclere

She may only be a baby at five feet tall but the latest arrival at Port Lympne Reserve holds a big part for her species' future.

Keepers were over the moon this week after the birth of a critically endangered Rothschild giraffe.

She is the first giraffe to be born at the reserve near Hythe in eight years.

Keepers are delighted with the calf's arrival at Port Lympne

Keepers are delighted with the calf's arrival at Port Lympne

Staff knew the arrival was imminent as mum Lunar was getting more and more agitated at the beginning of the week.

VIDEO: Here's the moment Lunar gave birth!

But keepers were still left surprised by her arrival at 10pm on Tuesday, July 26.

Animal manager Simon Jeffery said: “We are absolutely over the moon to welcome this lovely calf. We’ve all been waiting anxiously for her arrival and managed to capture the ‘first moments’ on CCTV.

VIDEO: The giraffe is doing well. Credit: The Aspinall Foundation

“Watching the footage back, we can see that the little one was trying to stand up shortly after birth, just as she would in the wild.”

The calf is the first for parents Valentino and Lunar and is still finding her feet but has already been spotted stepping out to explore the yard around the giraffe house.

The species are critically endangered with only 750 individuals estimated to remain in the wild.

The youngster with mum Lunar

The youngster with mum Lunar

Port Lympne is part of a European breeding programme to help try and save the species.

Victoria Snook, African Experience keeper added: “This is Lunar’s first calf and stands at a leggy five feet tall!

"Although it’s early days, she is suckling well and already starting to explore, under the watchful eyes of her mum Lunar and auntie, Lehana.”

Adrian Harland, animal director said: “We are privileged to be part of such an important breeding programme. Conservation of endangered species is at the core of what we do and this fabulous little female will have a vital role to play in the future.”

Visitors may be able to catch a glimpse of the leggy calf as they head out on to the African safari section during the summer holidays.

For more on the park and its conservation aims go to www.aspinallfoundation.org/portlympne

See video of her first steps on our website www.kentonline.co.uk/hythe

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