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Giraffe calf who died at Port Lympne wildlife park named posthumously

A baby giraffe who died at a wildlife park in Kent last month has been named posthumously.

Thousands watched the births of two new giraffe calves - one male, one female - when they were live-streamed across the world back in June from Port Lympne.

But the young male, born to adult giraffe mother Lehana, died just six weeks later following health complications after he broke his leg.

The male giraffe calf that died has been named Jabari, which means 'brave'
The male giraffe calf that died has been named Jabari, which means 'brave'

The Aspinall Foundation, who run the site, had been encouraging supporters to suggest African names for the calves as part of a fundraising drive before his death.

The late giraffe has been named Jabari, which means 'brave'.

Simon Jeffery, animal director, said: "We would like to thank all our supporters for helping us name both of our giraffe calves.

"Tragically, we lost the little male recently, but we decided to name him posthumously.

"We all feel that it’s a very fitting name."

The female giraffe calf has been named Kianga and has taken her first steps out onto the Reserve's 110-acre African Experience to meet the rest of the herd, accompanied by her mother Lunar.

Kianga explores The African Experience
Kianga explores The African Experience

Mr Jeffery added: "Kianga, our female calf’s name means, sunshine or sunbeam – also a very apt name.

"Kianga clearly loves exploring The African Experience and although she is quite adventurous, she doesn’t stray far from her mother.

"The rest of the herd were keen to meet her and the boys are being very protective of her."

Lehana and Lunar were simultaneously made pregnant by male giraffe Valentino, and the park set up a 'Giraffe Cam' in May for Youtube and Facebook viewers around the world to follow their progress in labour.

Kianga and Lunar explore
Kianga and Lunar explore

The mothers arrived at Port Lympne Reserve in 2013 as part of a breeding programme designed to boost dwindling Rothschild giraffe numbers in the wild, where they are endangered species with fewer than 2500 mature Rothschild giraffes left.

They are usually found in Uganda and Kenya and spend up to 75% of the day eating a diet of leaves and bark, with their favourite being acacia trees.

Seven-year-old Lunar was expected to give birth first in June. She was already mum to two-year-old female Mwezi, who was the first giraffe to be born at the reserve near Hythe in eight years when she arrived in 2016.

Lehana was due to give birth shortly after Lunar, but ended up beating her by a week with Jabari's birth on Thursday, June 7 at around 5.20pm.

He died on the evening of Tuesday, July 17.

Jabari with mum Lehana during the live-stream. Credit: Youtube
Jabari with mum Lehana during the live-stream. Credit: Youtube

In a statement on their blog and Facebook at the time, the animal centre said keepers were 'devastated': "We are very sad to announce the death of our male giraffe calf.

"He had been unwell for four days, was unsteady on his feet and had fallen several times.

"Whilst undertaking diagnostics and treatment, an accident occurred, causing him to break his leg."

It said the animal was put to sleep: "Unfortunately, the break was a complicated fracture that could not be fixed.

"Our expert vets made the sad decision to euthanise him."

Lehana has another calf called Bakora, a male born in December 2016.

Watch: Kianga takes her first steps with the rest of the herd

Visitors to the wildlife park this summer will be able to see the giraffe herd, including Kianga, from the safari trucks.

The calf shares its home outside with eight other giraffes, while spending their nights in a heated indoor enclosure.

The park have been trying to raise funds to extend the giraffe house, with the intention of a nursery for the new calves in recent weeks.

To donate visit www.aspinallfoundation.org/donate and include ‘giraffe’ in the comments.

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