What's new at Basel Zoo

Wednesday 21 June 2017 is World Giraffe Day. Basel Zoo is currently home to five rare Kordofan giraffes and the group’s youngest member is the tranquil and independent male Onong. The Kordofan giraffes kept at the zoo are considered as endangered in the wild.

Onong (meaning the handsome one) was born in the stall in Basel Zoo’s antelope house on 28 February 2017 and has grown into a fine young giraffe. According to keeper Friederike von Houwald, the young male has integrated into the group well in his four short months, as is normal with giraffes. Onong is a particularly tranquil and independent young animal; not even having a keeper nearby is enough to fluster him. The fact that he lies on the floor away from the group from time to time is simply part of a giraffe’s nature as an animal which is often preyed upon. As younger animals do not require as much food as the adults, they often pull back from the group while the older members search for food. Onong is otherwise extremely sociable and made his first trip to the outdoor enclosure with his mother Sophie (6) just a few days after he was born. Since then, he has also come into contact with the lesser kudus, who share the outdoor enclosure with the giraffes.

With the birth of Onong, Basel Zoo’s antelope house is now home to five Kordofan giraffes: one male, two females and two calves. Onong is Sophie’s second calf and has already reached a height of around 2.2 metres and a weight of around 165 kilograms. According to keeper von Houwald, he has also built up a good relationship with his father Xamburu (8). Basel Zoo has been keeping Kordofan giraffes since 2011. Unlike all other subspecies, Kordofan giraffes have only small, irregular spots on their inner legs.

Giraffes are endangered in the wild

World Giraffe Day on 21 June was an idea conceived by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation with the aim of raising awareness about this animal’s plight in the wild. In Africa, there are currently fewer than 100,000 giraffes, animals on which little scientific research has been conducted. Kordofan giraffes can be found in Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon and there are only around 2,000 of them left today. Therefore, a breeding programme has been set up in European zoos, coordinated by Gelsenkirchen Zoo (Germany). Worldwide, 90 of these animals are kept in scientifically managed zoos. With its giraffes, Basel Zoo would also like to make a contribution to the protection of this rare subspecies.

The giraffes in Basel Zoo can now often be found in the outdoor enclosure of the antelope house and particularly when it is a warm day, visitors are encouraged to go and see them early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Built in 1910 and one of Basel Zoo’s oldest buildings, the antelope house currently has a lot on offer for its visitors as there is also a young okapi calf and two lesser kudu calves to see.