Ronnie, Raine and Rafiki may sound like the latest triple-act vying for pop stardom, but are in fact the youngest babies born to Woburn’s endangered species breeding programme. Busy keepers at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire are celebrating the birth of a Barbary macaque, a gregarious Addax calf and an unusually-dressed Rothschild’s giraffe.
Woburn’s youngest male baby giraffe Ronnie marks an important achievement for the park’s conservation efforts. With less than 670 Rothschild’s giraffes thought to be left in the wild, captive breeding programmes offer a vital lifeline. Born to seven year-old mother Kimmy, Ronnie displays the distinctive features of this species of giraffe with bold regular patches and adorable cream-coloured “socks” with no markings below the knees.
Lindsay Banks, senior keeper said: “Ronnie is proving to be a sweet-natured if slightly shy addition. It took a little while for him to make friends, but Ronnie has been welcomed by the herd and can now be seen running and playing with the other calves in the paddock.”
With a name inspired by her mother Forest, Raine has instantly gained a reputation as one of the park’s most vocal young residents, calling out to keepers whenever they approach.
Also known as the white antelope, Addax are critically endangered. Recent surveys have found just three individuals in the wild with ongoing threats to survival including poaching. As an important future hope for the species, Raine will remain at Woburn and be closely monitored by the captive breeding programme.
Chris Smart, head of section said: “Raine is fascinated by people and calls out to nearby keepers to get their attention. She’s lively like her mum and doesn’t stop calling till she gets what she wants.”
Rafiki is the first baby born to Woburn’s six-year-old Barbary macaque, Msasa. He is spending a lot of time riding on his mum’s back at the moment, and can also be seen playing with the other two babies in the park’s 16-acre African forest habitat alongside the Patas monkeys and Bongos.
Wild populations of Barbary macaques have decreased rapidly over the last few years because of illegal pet trade and habitat loss and the species is now officially endangered. Other than those in captivity, three-quarters are now found in the Atlas Mountains in Northwest Africa.
Chris Smart said: “Rafiki’s mum Msasa is very protective, but will occasionally let the older males carry him around. He is currently drinking his mother’s milk but Rafiki is a quick learner and already beginning to forage with others in the African forest.