Belfast Zoo have welcomed a new addition with the birth of an endangered giraffe nicknamed ‘Handsome Henry’.
The Rothchild’s giraffe who is officially named Ballyhenry was born at the zoo on Sunday, July 24, to proud mum Casey.
Having laboured for two hours, she gave birth naturally at 2.30pm inside the giraffe house, which was closed to the public to allow for privacy during the bonding process.
Zookeepers have reported the calf and mother are in fine health, with Casey also having given birth to Ballyronan in May 2020.
Traditionally, Belfast Zoo names giraffes after places beginning with ‘Bally.’
The choice of Ballyhenry, a townland in Co Antrim, was picked by curator Raymond Robinson.
Although new-born giraffes normally weight around 100kg and stand at 5 feet 9 inches tall, Henry is comparatively petite at 5 feet 7 inches.
The subspecies of Rothchild’s giraffes remain one of the most endangered, with estimates suggesting that only around 2,000 remain in the wild.
Illegal hunting for meat and hide, as well as a sustained loss of habitat, are behind the falling numbers.
Conservation action has helped the general giraffe population move from a status of ‘endangered' to ‘near threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, but despite this the Rothschild’s giraffe subspecies remains endangered.
Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said: “We’re delighted to welcome little Henry to the herd at Belfast Zoo. We first welcomed Rothschild’s giraffes in 1988 and have since celebrated the birth of 39 calves. We’re proud to participate in a European breeding programme and collaborate with zoos around the world. Our breeding success helps to ensure that that there is a ‘safety net’ population of this endangered subspecies.”
Visitors will be able to see Henry at the giraffe house or outside in the giraffe paddock from 10am to 6pm every day, with the last entry at 4.30pm.