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Rare giraffe born in Connecticut

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Updated March 25, 2013 at 11:04 AM
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An endangered giraffe gave birth to a healthy female calf Friday morning at a Connecticut conservation center.

With staff and her herd looking on, 6-year-old Rothschild giraffe Petal became the first giraffe to give birth at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Conn.

Petal, a second time mom who was able to deliver without the help of onlooking staff, has already bonded with her calf.

"She's a great mom," said Marcella Leone, founder and director of the LEO Center told the Greenwich Times. "She was very proud, trying to show off her newborn."

After about 30 minutes -- and a tongue bath from mom -- the yet-unnamed calf was on her feet and nursing.

Conservationists believe fewer than 700 Rothschild giraffes still live in the wild in their native Kenya and Uganda. The subspecies, able to grow up to 18 feet in height, was named by British zoologist Lord Walter Rothschild on an expedition to East Africa.

The Rothschild giraffes, also known as Baringo giraffes, have a different color pattern than other subspecies; the patches are less jagged and the channels between them are creamier in color. Their lower legs also have no spots on them, giving the giraffes the appearance of wearing white stockings.

Petal's calf is the first born at the LEO center, and possibly the first giraffe born in Connecticut.

The Lionshare Educational Organization manages the LEO center, a nonprofit specializing in breeding at-risk species and providing conservation education programs.

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