News | 30 November 2023
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Wellington Zoo welcomes new-born baby giraffe

Wellington Zoo has welcomed its first new-born baby giraffe in nearly two decades – a calf born on Wednesday 29 November to parents Zuri and Sunny.

A new-born calf attempting to stand up infront of it's mother.

Wellington Zoo Chief Executive Karen Fifield (MNZM) says the new-born’s arrival has been long awaited.

"We are thrilled for the calf to be joining our Zoo whānau," says Karen, who is also President of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“We are grateful to both our Zoo whānau and the Wellington community that have supported us throughout Zuri’s pregnancy to where we are now – our first giraffe birth in nearly two decades!"

The new addition is the first giraffe born at Wellington Zoo since 2004. 

At a day old, the calf and its mother are being kept physically separate from Sunny and Zahara while maintaining audio-visual and olfactory access.

Once Zuri and her calf have bonded, Zahara will be able to meet her great-niece, followed by Sunny as the calf is integrated into the herd.  

Giraffe pregnancies are well documented in zoos across the world and can last anywhere from 457 to 466 days.

Over the course of the year, Wellington Zoo's Animal Care team consulted with specialists from around the world to prepare for every potential labour scenario and set up a close-circuit television feed in the habitat to monitor the progress of birth. 

Animal Care Manager Nic Dunn says the Animal Care and Veterinary team had been monitoring the footage every single hour for the past few weeks, making sure they would be ready for the birth.

“This preparation paid off when at 2am yesterday morning (Wednesday 29 November) Zuri’s labour started and we could be here before the birth at 6am. We have been keeping a close watch on Zuri and the calf as they spend time bonding, and the Animal Care and Veterinary teams are keeping a close eye on them to ensure the calf is reaching appropriate milestones.

“We can confirm that the calf is a female, which we are thrilled about.”

Throughout the delivery, a team of experts and equipment were on call in case it became necessary for veterinary intervention. Luckily, Zuri was able to deliver her calf without complications. 

WATCH: Wellington Zoo Giraffe Zuri giving birth to her calf (You Tube)

Image of ring-tailed lemurs arriving at Wellington Zoo

About Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo is New Zealand's first zoo, established in 1906, and is Wellington’s oldest conservation organisation. Home to over 500 native and exotic animals, Wellington Zoo became a charitable trust in 2003 and remains a not-for-profit organisation. 

Wellington Zoo became the world’s first Toitū net carbon zero certified zoo in May 2013. Wellington Zoo received Rainbow Tick Accreditation in 2022. 

Wellington Zoo is an accredited member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia and a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Giraffes at Wellington Zoo

Since the 1980s, habitat loss and poaching has resulted in giraffe populations declining from 155,000 individuals to approximately 110,000 individuals today.

Wellington Zoo is an active supporter of TRAFFIC, an organisation that aims to reduce illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade. Five percent of the cost of animal transfers is donated directly to TRAFFIC from the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund to protect wildlife from illegal trading, alongside additional donations.