BABY GIRAFFE BORN AFTER ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION A CANADIAN 1ST
It may not have had quite the same global media impact as the news in 1978 of the birth of the world’s first “test tube baby”, but the announcement yesterday by CAZA member African Lion Safari of Canada’s first giraffe born by artificial insemination is more evidence of the important, and often groundbreaking, conservation work done in Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums.
The healthy female Rothschild calf, weighing 60kg and 175cm tall, was born to father “Jimmy” and mother “Calgary” on December 31, 2013. Named “Safari” in honour of African Lion Safari’s 45th anniversary, she has since been introduced to the herd.
This is the first time a giraffe has been born by means of artificial insemination in Canada and only the second time ever in the world. African Lion Safari partnered with the University of Guelph and German company Geolife over nine years of research into reproductive technology, which led to Safari’s birth.
Breeding programmes such that of African Lion Safari are of critical importance in maintaining genetic diversity. While giraffe populations are relative stable, a number of subspecies struggle. That is the case of the Rothschild giraffe, which with fewer than 1100 in the wild has been classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
African Lion Safari now hopes to share genetic material as well as its reproductive methodology with international conservation organizations to help breed Rothschild’s giraffes in the wild.