Public to name zoo’s latest arrival

DUBLIN ZOO is inviting the public to come up with a name for its newest attraction — a nine-day-old giraffe.

The baby girl, already over 5ft tall, was born on January 4 to mother Jenny and officials want the name of the latest arrival to be of African origin.

And the zoo is kicking off the new year with a double celebration as figures reveal more than 931,000 people passed through turnstiles in 2008, marking record visitor numbers.

Dublin Zoo director Leo Oosterweghel said the Phoenix Park site had become one of the country’s top attractions.

“We had a spectacular year and our visitors voted with their feet and helped us to break a record that a few years ago we would have thought impossible,” Mr Oosterweghel said.

“The continued hard work and dedication from all the zoo team has made the zoo one of the top visitor attractions in Ireland.

“2009 is already off to a fantastic start with the arrival of our new female giraffe and we look forward to welcoming our visitors to what we know will be another exciting year ahead.”

The youngster is said to be thriving and stood up within 40 minutes of its birth.

It has been suckling ever since and the little calf can be seen with her mother and the rest of the herd on the African plains section of the zoo from today.

Innovative name suggestions can be made by logging onto the zoo’s website: www.dublinzoo.ie or sending entries by post.

The zoo put the massive 931,866 visitors last year down to a remarkable animal baby boom, which included the birth of Budi, the first ever bull elephant in Ireland and the arrival in May of Zukiszwa, a southern white rhinoceros calf.

Another baby giraffe, Sandsteen, was born in July closely followed by the birth of a Californian sealion.

Numbers passing through the turnstiles were up 30,000 on 2007 despite one of the wettest summers on record, making the zoo one of the top three attractions in the country.

Visitors flocked to see the new arrivals, which were the result of years of dedicated and careful planning by the zoo team to ensure successful breeding outcomes of a number of endangered species.

Other draws in 2008 included the hatching of four Chilean flamingos, three maras, two yellow backed chattering lories, six kune kune piglets, a leopard tortoise, a South American tapir and a pony.

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