We have some great news! The Zoo’s giraffe herd is soon to grow with female Kiraka now around 14-months pregnant, and all going well, due to give birth in just a few weeks’ time.

As you can see from the video below taken by our Ungulates keeper Vicky, 14-year-old Kiraka is looking very heavily pregnant. She has put on a healthy and very acceptable 100kg+ during her pregnancy, and now tips the scales at 966kg!

On average, the gestation period for a giraffe calf is around 15 months (453 -463 days), but as our Ungulates team leader Tommy explains, as with many species, this can vary.

“It’s not possible to predict exactly when Kiraka will give birth as conception could be from one of a number of matings with male Billy.

“Kiraka is a great mother with a lovely nature. She’s successfully had four other offspring, and we know from past births (like male Jabali who was born last August) that she tends to give birth a little earlier than the average of 457 days, so we predict sometime in late December/early January. In saying that, there’s also the potential for her to be a little either side of these dates.”  

As the world’s tallest land mammal, unsurprisingly newborn calves are not small. Kiraka’s calf will weigh around 60kg and be close to 6 feet tall (big enough to reach up to suckle from Kiraka) or quite possibly, even taller!

“Billy’s dad Forrest (born at Auckland Zoo in 2007 before being relocated to Australia Zoo) was confirmed by the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s tallest known giraffe in 2020 (18 feet, 8 inches!). As Billy’s first offspring, male Jabili (with Kiraka), was well over 6 feet at birth, it’s quite likely this calf could arrive at a pretty impressive height,” says Tommy.  



Giraffe Kiraka's pregnant belly

This video was filmed by ungulates keeper Vicky at one of her regular health check ups.

In the lead-up to her giving birth, Tommy and the team are keeping a close eye on Kiraka’s health and progress. Thanks to a great training programme and the Zoo’s exceptional giraffe house facilities, she can be easily weighed and closely examined each week. This involves Kiraka voluntarily walking into a specially designed giraffe chute. The team are also able to do some physical health checks, primarily around her belly area, using touch.

Within the next couple of weeks, the Ungulates team will begin monitoring Kiraka remotely at night via a 24-hour camera system - checking for any behaviour changes and signs that indicate she is getting closer to going into labour.

Along with Kiraka and Billy - older female Rukiya (22), female Kabili (6) and the offspring of Kiraka and older male Zabulu – who died in 2017) and Kiraka and Billy’s son Jabali (1.5 years) make up the Zoo’s giraffe herd – all important ambassadors for their wild cousins.

An incredible species, giraffe are doing it tough in the wild having lost over 90% of their habitat and experienced a population decline of almost 30% over the past 35 years. But thanks to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation - an organisation the Zoo has supported since 2014 (that you our visitors help us support every time you visit!) some great work is being done across 20 African countries for all four giraffe species – to help ensure their future.

As Kiraka enters the final stage of her pregnancy, we look forward to keeping you posted on her progress, so be sure to check back in.