Auckland Zoo is delighted to share it has welcomed the arrival of a healthy (and very tall!) giraffe calf to parents Kiraka (12) and first-time dad Billy (3).

The male calf, estimated to top 6ft 5 inches (over 1.95m) – the tallest new-born the Zoo’s ungulates keepers can recall, was born early Friday morning (19 August) and was standing and suckling from Kiraka within the hour.

“It looks like Kiraka’s new son has inherited the tall genes of his grandfather Forrest (born at Auckland Zoo in 2007 and relocated to Australia Zoo in 2009 as part of the Zoo Aquarium Association (ZAA) Australasian regional breeding and advocacy programme for giraffe). At 18ft 8 inches, Forrest is named in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s tallest giraffe within a zoo,” says Ungulates keeper Vicky Smith.

Present for the duration of the labour and birth, Vicky says Kiraka’s labour began around 9pm on Thursday evening, and following her waters breaking around 5.43am, she gave birth at 7.15am – which most of the Ungulates’ team were present to witness.   

“This was my first time seeing a giraffe birth – which was an incredible experience and a real honour,” says Vicky. “Kiraka (who has three other offspring) seemed to take it all in her stride and is once again proving to be a brilliant mother. She’s very calm and chilled and super attentive and protective of her new calf, which is exactly how she needs to be, and of course her son more than has the height to be able to suckle from her!”


Meet weeks' old giraffe calf Jabali!

We follow ungulates keepers Vicky and Ben as they discuss being there for giraffe calf Jabali’s birth on 19 August, and introducing him to his habitat mates the zebra, ostrich and guinea fowl for the first time.

Over the coming days, Kiraka and her calf will remain inside the Zoo’s giraffe house where they’ll be gradually introduced to the rest of the herd - older female Rukiya (20) and Kiraka’s daughter, Kabili (5 years old) and then dad Billy.

Once the herd is introduced to Kiraka’s new-born, the Ungulates team will assess when they can begin going out into the giraffe paddock for short periods, which will be visitors ’first opportunity to see Kiraka and her son. (Keep an eye on the Zoo’s social channels for updates).

“We can’t wait for visitors to meet Kiraka’s new calf and be able to watch him grow and develop over the coming months. The giraffe is such an exceptional species that, primarily due to habitat loss, has seen an almost 30% decline in its population since the 1980s. Here at the Zoo, we’re really proud to be partnering with and supporting the amazing work of Africa’s Giraffe Conservation Foundation to help conserve giraffe. This is vital support that our community helps contribute to when they visit,” says Vicky.

Naming competition

In the coming weeks, the Zoo will be inviting the community to help name Kiraka’s new calf. This will be announced via our social channels.