Giraffe Calf Zoomies as Baby Mtembei Takes First Steps Outside and Meets the Herd

A two-week old, rare baby giraffe calf has been seen enjoying his first steps outside, as he explores his new habitat and meets the rest of the herd.

Mtembei, whose birth on 29 May was captured on CCTV, has been enjoying his first two weeks of life snuggled next to mum, Arusha, in the giraffe house.

On Tuesday 10 June, keepers opened the gates so Mtembei could join the rest of the herd on their morning strolls around the Safari.

Although tentative at first, it wasn’t long before the excitable calf was seen doing ‘zoomies’ around the giraffe paddock, much to the pleasure of the other giraffes, who seemed just as interested in their new family member.

Head Keeper of Ungulates, Lisa Watkins, said, “Mtembei is two weeks old now and is thriving. The team are really excited that we have been able to let Mtembei out with the herd, to explore his new home and meet guests as they drive around the Safari. He really enjoyed galloping around, having a stretch and the rest of the herd were very excited to say ‘hello’. 

He is starting to show some of his personality, but I have no doubt we will see more of his character now he is exploring his new surroundings. He’s a relaxed calf and takes everything in his stride, just like his mum, Arusha, who is very attentive. We couldn’t be prouder. We will continue to get him used to the area and hope to mix him with other animals as soon as he is ready.”

Mtembei is a Rothschild’s giraffe and his species is part of an EEP (EAZA Ex-situ Programme), which is a collaborative breeding programme between European zoos, aiming to conserve endangered species.

Giraffes are vulnerable to extinction, due to threats including habitat loss and degradation because of human activities, as well as from poaching for their meat and skin.

Mtembei’s birth brings the number of giraffes at the Park to 11, including his dad, Rufus, brother, Kingsley and half-siblings, Emali and Kris. 

Mtembei will spend the next few weeks in the giraffe habitat but will be out on the main Safari Drive in the near future, where he will encounter the rest of his new neighbours, including white rhinos, Congo buffalo, zebras and antelope.