The Owl Rescue Centre in Hartbeespoort rescued an abandoned baby giraffe from a nature reserve at Silkaatsnek near Hartbeespoort last weekend.

Danelle Murray with the baby giraffe they saved.

“We received a call from the Silkaatsnek Nature Reserve on Saturday after guides found a baby giraffe lying in the bush. We rushed out there as every minute counts in such cases.We realised the baby needed to get to a veterinarian immediately. Most vets were closed and we rushed him to the Avian and Exotic Veterinary Clinic in Bryanston where he was put on a glucose and fluid drip to stabilise him,” said Danelle Murray, who with her husband Brendan, owns the Owl Rescue Centre. “The vets arranged that we could transfer him to the wildlife division at Onderstepoort veterinary hospital.”

The couple then rushed the baby giraffe to Onderstepoort where he received a plasma transfusion. “During tests, the vets at Onderstepoort determined that the baby, probably premature, did not receive mother’s milk, and he urgently needed colostrum. A cow at a dairy farm in Rayton had just calved, and we rushed off to fetch a few litres for the baby giraffe. It was a lifesaver. Mammals produce colostrum, which is nutrient-rich, high in antibodies and full of antioxidants to help build a newborn baby’s immune system in the first two days after birth.”

“He was too weak to suckle, he could not even open his eyes, and the colostrum had to be tube-fed. We left the little boy in the capable hands of the Onderstepoort team. On Sunday morning he stood up and when we visited him on Tuesday, he was stable. He is unfortunately not out of the woods yet. His glucose levels are still a concern. We are still optimistic though and will check on him daily, providing milk and whatever else he may need,” Danelle says.

They had named the baby giraffe Marvin, in the meantime.

It is suspected that the baby giraffe was premature and abandoned by the mother. “Baby giraffes are dependent on mommy for up to two years, so he has a long road ahead of him.”

Danelle said if he survives and gets stronger, the centre will network to find a wildlife rehabilitation centre that possibly has other youngsters he can grow up with.

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