Giraffe the latest addition to baby boom at Dublin Zoo
Birth follows arrival of monkeys, and three elephant calves are due in months
There is a baby boom under way at Dublin Zoo, with a baby giraffe arriving last week and an elephant calf expected within the next day or two. The Indian elephant will be the first of three expected to arrive within the coming two to four months, said Dublin Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel.
These animals join others born at the zoo such as marmosets, mangabeys and macaques (all types of monkey), he said. The as-yet-unnamed giraffe already measures 1.7 metres and weighs about 70kg.
It is a rare Rothschild giraffe, one of the most threatened of the nine giraffe subspecies, with fewer than 670 remaining in the wild. It has been outdoors to run with the eight giraffes that make up the Dublin herd.
The real talking point at the zoo, however, is the breeding success in the Indian elephant enclosure, where three of four females are carrying calves. The pregnancies backed up Mr Oosterweghel’s view that the redeveloped elephant enclosure provided these animals the right kind of “enriched” habitat to keep them content and comfortable.
“We changed everything about how we keep elephants in Dublin and people have been coming from around the world to see the enclosure,” he said. “Now we think habitat when we create spaces for the animals. It always comes from the wild, everything we do, the inspiration comes from the wild.”
Clearly there was a bit more than habitat going on. The zoo imported a replacement male named Upali in 2012, building him his own house, which also provided ready access to the shared enclosure, and he was an immediate hit as far as the all-female herd was concerned.
Matriarch Dine is pregnant as is her sister Yasmin and Yasmin’s daughter Anak. Yasmin will deliver within a few days, with the other calves following one to two months apart.
The females have their own house at the far end of the enclosure and the new calf will likely be born there, Mr Oosterweghel said. It has a deep sand base and there are no uncomfortable concrete floors.
The elephants can take a dip in either of two deep pools and are encouraged to go out and forage for food as they would in the wild, digging up sugar beets hidden by staff or searching in small openings where food intermittently appears. And the animals can move between house and enclosure as they like. “In the past they didn’t think about the psychological health of the animals,” he said.