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article imageVideo: Rare Rothschild giraffe born at LEO Conservation Center

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 25, 2013 in Environment
A rare six-year-old Rothschild giraffe named Petal has given birth to a healthy six-foot-tall baby giraffe at the LEO Conservation Center in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Rothschild giraffe is listed as an endangered subspecies.
Greenwich Time reports that Rothschild giraffes are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List. There are only a few hundred individuals surviving in the wild, an estimated 670 in Kenya and Uganda. According to The Inquisitr, the subspecies is at risk of hybridization because of its limited numbers.
Petal gave birth on Friday to a healthy female calf after 15 months of gestation, the average period for giraffes. Staff and a group of other giraffes at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center watched the birth. Although carers at the center were on hand to give assistance, Petal gave birth to her calf unaided. She cleaned the calf with her tongue and within half an hour it was standing and nursing.
The video above shows Petal urging her newborn to stand for the first time. According to officials at the center, this is Petal's second calf.
Greenwich Time writes that Marcella Leone, founder and director of the center, said: "She's a great mom. She was very proud, trying to show off her newborn."
According to AP, Leone said the young giraffe began approaching humans during the first day of her life.
Authorities at the center say the newborn will be allowed to run with a group of five giraffes, which includes two pregnant females. She could stand higher than 18 feet when fully grown.
The new calf is the first born at the off-exhibit conservation center.
Leone explained that the birth is significant because it expresses one of the major goals of the center which is supporting conservation of endangered species. She said: "This is serving our mission. What we're doing is working. Being an off-exhibit facility, it means so much for the animals to live that low-impact life."
The calf is yet unnamed but there is a contest on the center's website to name her. There is also a contest to guess the calf's actual day and time of birth. The person who makes the closest guess will be invited to visit the newborn and her family.
The Rothschild giraffe was named after Lord Walter Rothschild, a British zoologist who described the subspecies in the early 1900s after an expedition to East Africa.
There are several captive breeding programs aimed at preventing extinction of the subspecies. Some of the programs, such as the Giraffe Center in Nairobi, are in Africa.
An untrained eye will find it difficult to distinguish a Rothschild giraffe from other types. Experts say Rothschild giraffes are the only ones born with five ossicones, a horn-like protuberance on the head of individuals. They are taller than many other subspecies of giraffe, sometimes reaching 20 feet. They have no markings on the lower legs, giving the impression that they are wearing white stockings.
They mate all year round and give birth to a single calf. The female typically gives birth standing.
The The LEO Zoological Conservation Center (LEOZCC) is a nonprofit center that specializes in breeding and rearing of species at risk. The center also provides education programs on conservation issues. The Lionshare Educational Organization (LEO) manages the LEO Zoological Conservation Center. The organization says that its mission is "to share our animal world so that learning is a joyful experience, caring is a genuine concern, and acting on their behalf is a priority for us all."
Although the center is not a zoo, it offers opportunities for people to visit.
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