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
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
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.