Rare giraffe twin survives premature birth

3:17 pm on 3 January 2017

Auckland Zoo has welcomed a pair of rare twin giraffe calves on New Year's Eve but with bittersweet results.

The female giraffe calf stands in front of her mother Kiraka.

The female giraffe calf stands in front of her mother, Kiraka. Photo: Supplied

The calves were born prematurely to seven-year-old mother Kiraka and 17-year-old father Zabulu.

While the female calf, although light in body weight, was suckling well, the zoo staff made the tough decision to euthanise the male calf, said the zoo's curator of mammals, Warren Spencer.

"Unfortunately the male was very weak and unable to suckle and function independently.

"It didn't really form a great bond with his mother Kiraka," Mr Spencer said.

The yet to be named female calf, and her mother, would remain out of public view until they were bonded and strong, he said.

"We take these things day by day and, fingers crossed, it will progress well."

Auckland Zoo Pridelands Team leader Nat Sullivan with the male giraffe calf, which was later euthanised.

Auckland Zoo Pridelands Team leader Nat Sullivan with the male giraffe calf, which was later euthanised. Photo: Supplied

"In fullness of time we hope people will be able to see the calf."

There are only 30 recorded examples of twin calves being born to giraffes worldwide.

Mr Spencer said Kiraka was an experienced mother but was likely surprised to give birth to two calves.

"She is doing all the right things for the female calf."

Auckland Zoo's giraffe herd is part of an Australasian regional breeding programme.

The zoo now has five giraffes - along with Zabulu and Kiraka and the baby, they also have a male calf, Mtundu, and another female, Rukiya.

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