Belfast Zoo welcomes birth of endangered giraffe ‘Handsome Henry’

Belfast Zoo has welcomed a new addition with the birth of an endangered giraffe nicknamed ‘Handsome Henry’.

he Rothchild giraffe, officially named Ballyhenry, was born at the zoo on Sunday July 24th to proud mother Casey.

After two hours of labour, she gave birth naturally at 2.30pm at the giraffe house, which was closed to the public to ensure privacy during the bonding process.

Zookeepers have reported that the calf and mother are in good health, with Casey also giving birth to Ballyronan in May 2020.


Handsome Henry was born at Belfast Zoo on Sunday 24th July. (Photo: Zoo Keeper Nick)

Traditionally, Belfast Zoo names giraffes after places beginning with “Bally”.

Ballyhenry, a townland in Co Antrim, was chosen by curator Raymond Robinson.

Although newborn giraffes typically weigh around 100kg and stand 5ft 9in tall, Henry is comparatively petite at 5ft 7in.

The Rothschild giraffe subspecies remains one of the most endangered species, with only around 2,000 estimated to remain in the wild.

Behind the declining numbers are illegal hunting for meat and fur and ongoing habitat loss.

Conservation efforts have helped raise the general giraffe population from a status of “Vulnerable” to “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, but despite this, the Rothschild giraffe subspecies remains vulnerable.

Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome little Henry to the flock at Belfast Zoo. We first welcomed Rothschild giraffes in 1988 and have since celebrated the birth of 39 calves. We are proud to participate in a European breeding program and work with zoos around the world. Our breeding success helps ensure there is a ‘safety net’ population of this endangered subspecies.”

Visitors can see Henry inside the giraffe house or outside in the giraffe enclosure daily from 10am to 6pm, last entry is at 4:30pm. Belfast Zoo welcomes birth of endangered giraffe ‘Handsome Henry’

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