A year after April the giraffe became a global phenomenon with millions watching the final stages of her marathon 15-month pregnancy, the same dramatic scenes are being played out at the famous Kent wildlife park.
This time the stars are two critically endangered Rothschild’s giraffes called Lehana and Lunar, with the father of both unborn calves having the aptly amorous name of Valentino.
Both pregnant giraffes are seven years old and have given birth previously at the reserve, with their calves, Mwezi and Bakora, born six months apart in 2016.
While telling individual giraffes apart can be tricky with their camouflage markings, Lunar can be identified because she is slightly shorter but with a longer tail and has black tips on her horns, which are known as ossicones.
Lehana is taller and her ossicones are not straight as one goes forward and the other back.
Besides the five Rothschild’s giraffes, the park is also home to three male hybrids called Cillian, Settanta and Sebastian, which have been gelded.
“We are delighted that our two female giraffe, Lehana and Lunar, are both expecting again and we wanted to share this incredible journey with everyone far and wide,” explained Port Lympne’s animal director Simon Jeffery today.
This is a really exciting time for us and based on the comments and shares we have already received, people are really pleased that we are sharing this with them.
“It’s fantastic that giraffe fans, not just in the UK, but from all around the world are joining in, too. I must admit it’s very addictive to watch and I can’t wait until the calves are born.”
Live footage is coming from the giraffes’ breeding sanctuary via the park’s Facebook and YouTube channels, with fans able to tune in nightly via Facebook Live from 6pm to 7pm.
Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve will be hoping for the same global reaction as when cameras focused on April the giraffe last year.
Millions tuned in to watch live as she gave birth to a calf called Tajiri in her enclosure at the Animal Adventure Park in upstate New York.
Both Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve and its sister charity, Howletts Wild Animal Park, work the Aspinall Foundation, which has a global reputation for breeding rare species and returning them to the wild.
Earlier this week, the charitable foundation announced the birth of its 139th western lowland gorilla at Howletts.
With as few as 1,700 Rothschild’s giraffes left in the wild, the subspecies is now officially classed as endangered on the Red List and survives only in Kenya and Uganda.
They were named after Baron Walter Rothschild, the magnificently wealthy 19th Century banker and zoologist.
Lympne’s small family of Rothschild’s giraffes can be see roaming by day across the park’s 100-acre African Experience before returning to their heated indoor enclosure at night.
Efforts are now made to expand the giraffe house, with the construction of a nursery.
If you would like to donate towards the new enclosure, see:: www.aspinallfoundation.org/donate
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