SINGAPORE, November 2015 — Singapore Zoo proudly welcomed its first giraffe calf in 28 years on 31 August this year. At a statuesque 1.9 metres, he is the tallest SG50 baby, and is a symbol of Singapore soaring to new heights in the years following its Jubilee celebration.
The calf is the first offspring of both mom Roni and dad Growie, which arrived in Singapore Zoo in 2005, from Israel and the Netherlands respectively. The unnamed calf has since grown 40cm, and now stands at 2.3 metres.
During the calf’s first month, he was separated from the rest of the giraffe herd to allow mother and baby to bond, and to ensure the calf was nursing properly. The exhibit was also baby-proofed as a safety precaution before allowing the calf to explore its new surroundings. Existing barriers had to be modified to ensure the baby can explore the exhibit safely.
Gradually, mother and baby were reintroduced to the other two giraffes in the herd—Growie, the father, and Lucy, an unrelated female, which arrived in Singapore together with Roni. The conditioning process took close to three weeks, to ensure the herd would accept the calf. All four are now comfortably sharing the exhibit and can regularly be seen grooming each other to strengthen their bonds.
Aside from the mother’s milk, the calf can now be seen nibbling on leaves and chopped vegetables such as carrots. He now spends his days exploring and running around in the exhibit at the Zoo’s Wild Africa zone. While he’s starting to get used to passing trams and visitors, he will still race back to the safety of mom’s towering presence when faced with something unfamiliar.
“Animal babies are always a cause for celebration as they are a good indication that the animals under our care feel comfortable and secure enough to breed in the environment that we’ve created for them. We hope the calf will tug at visitors’ heartstrings and inspire them to find out more about giraffes, and other animals that thrive in the same environment as these majestic creatures,” said Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Although listed as least concern on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species, habitat destruction and fragmentation are threats to giraffe populations. To a lesser degree, they are hunted for their meat, coat and tails. The tail is prized for good luck bracelets, fly whisks and string for sewing beads, while the coat is used for shield coverings.
There are plans to conduct a naming contest to find a suitable name for the little one in coming months.
Those visiting Singapore Zoo are encouraged to take photos of the new addition and upload them with the hashtag#sg50babygiraffe.
Visitors can follow updates on the baby giraffe’s development at www.zoo.com.sg/sg50babygiraffe.
*IUCN: International Union for the Conservation of Nature