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Sunday, May 5, 2013

birth of Rothschild Giraffe at Leo Zoo Connecticut

Animal lovers World over followed keenly and were happy when Petal, a 6 year old Rothschild giraffe, gave birth to a healthy calf on March 22nd 2013  at LEO Zoological Conservation Center.  Within 30 minutes of the birth, the calf was standing and nursing.  In Zoological parks, one can see animals in their natural habitats and learn more about the animals… there is a famous zoo at Connecticuit… but it is not open to all visitors ~ surprising, read on……..

Giraffes are tall and elegant and can grow up to 6m (20ft) in height; their remarkable tongues grow up to 45cm (18in) long; adult giraffes can weigh in excess of 1,000kg (2,200lbs); they can run speeds of up to 35miles/hour (55km/h)

The Rothschild giraffe (Currently: Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) are highly endangered and only the  last few hundred can be found in a few protected areas in Kenya and in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. They eat leaves off of treetops including but not limited to acacia, mimosa, and wild apricot.  They are reported named after the famous family of the Tring Museum's founder, Lord Walter Rothschild. There are various captive breeding programmes in place; Rothschild's giraffe is easily distinguishable from other subspecies. The most obvious sign is in the colouring of the coat, or pelt.

It is in this background that the delivery by Petal at Leo Zoo was greeted by many as an event.  The Lionshare Educational Organization (LEO) Zoological Conservation Center is a private, nonprofit wildlife reserve and breeding facility in Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut. It is funded in part by contributions from international students who attend the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Their website describes that the founders purchased property in Connecticut in 1994 with the idea of building a state-of-the-art equestrian facility, and Lionshare Farm was born.  This land, once a golf course, grew into a world-renowned show barn for horse and rider alike, aided by the reputation of Peter Leone, an Olympic Medalist. Lionshare Educational Organization (LEO) was founded in 2009 with careful long-range planning, to create a conservation center for animals.  Its location on the 100 acre Lionshare property in Greenwich/Stamford, CT, makes it perfectly situated for what is essentially a wildlife preserve, as it is bordered by many acres of preserved land. Over the years, the center has developed into a thriving organization. Structures have been dedicated to veterinary care, quarantine, acclimation, observation, and administration. Everything has been designed to enhance the health and well-being of the animals’ bodies and minds. Even though “lion” is part of our name, ironically there are no lions at Lionshare Farm or the conservation center! The name comes from leone, meaning “lion” in several languages and the last name of Founder and Director Marcella Leone and her husband, Peter.  This was founded by Ms Marcella Leone.

In May 2009, the center filed an application with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service to import three cheetahs. That was a few months after a pet chimpanzee attacked and maimed a woman in Stamford, and word of the cheetahs’ arrival caused some disquiet among neighbors.  As of March 2013, the facility housed about 200 individual animals, including camels, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, giraffes, orangutans and other primates, and penguins.  

The sanctuary is largely closed to the public. Visits are limited to big donors, educational programs and some charitable groups. The cheapest excursions, to start May 23, are “safaris” that will cost $500 a person, with a minimum of $2,500 for one safari. A family membership, which allows monthly visits, requires a donation of $10,000 or more.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th April 2013.


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