Orana welcomes baby giraffe
Orana Wildlife Park has grown overnight with the birth of a "gorgeous" giraffe.
Animal collection manager Ian Adams found the calf early today.
"It is a strong and healthy calf and mother Tunu is doing really well, too. The calf is drinking like it's going out of fashion," he said.
The father of the calf was Harold, who died in June.
"The gorgeous baby is his lasting legacy," Adams said.
The giraffe has been confirmed as a girl but does not yet have a name.
"Sometimes the person who finds it names it but we might also have a competition. We're not rushing into a name," Orana spokesman Nathan Hawke said.
Giraffe pregnancies last 15 months. The staff knew the giraffe was due but they did not know the exact date.
"We had bets going on when it would be. We thought it might be last week but the staff on yesterday said she was very close," Hawke said.
The calf was about 1.8-metres tall and a little wobbly on her legs. She was sticking close to her mother and not venturing outside.
The calf would not be able to be fed by the public for a while.
The staff were very excited the baby was a girl, Adams said.
"It means we now have a female who can breed who will live at the park for 25 years."
It would have cost the park between $75,000 and $100,000 to bring in a female giraffe from overseas.
"We've essentially got a healthy, free breeder here, which is great," Adams said.
The first giraffes arrived at the park in 1982 and the calf's arrival was almost like a 30th anniversary gift, he said.
The last giraffe calf was born in 2010, also to Tunu, but did not survive.
Today's addition brings the total number of giraffes at the park to four.
The arrival of the baby was perfect timing for the school holidays, Adams said.
"People love a baby anything and look at her - she's pretty cute. Even a bloke can say she's cute."
Adams hoped she would bring visitor numbers back up to pre-earthquake levels.
"It dropped about 20 per cent after the earthquakes but with school holidays and Christmas coming up, we think this could give us a really good boost."
A group of Craighead Diocesan School pupils today waited for hours to catch a glimpse of the newborn.
"We saw it come out for a second but then it went back in," Lydia Harper, 15, said.
"We want to see it so badly," Demi Aitken, 14, said.