Prague Zoo’s baby giraffe named Matyáš

He is one of two endangered giraffes born this year; the other was named Nela

The male Nubian giraffe, born in Prague Zoo on Feb. 13 has been named Matyáš. He and his giraffe half-sister Nela will go the African Pavilion’s outdoor enclosure for the first time April 15.

Matyáš, the 84th giraffe born at Prague Zoo, was “baptized” by actor Pavel Šimčík and Olympic canoeing medalist Josef Dostál at an April 14 ceremony at Prague Zoo, with the participation of Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek.

Matyáš’ mother is Eliška, the eldest female of the Prague herd. His father is Johan, who was born in the Netherlands. Johan is also the father of Nela, who was born Jan. 25 to Swiss-born mother Faraa.

Before Nela got her official name Feb. 17, she was known as Modelka because she loved to pose for cameras as soon as she was born.

Initially Matyáš had problems with his hind legs, but he improved due to treatment from zoo veterinarians. He now measures about 190 cm tall and should double that in his first year.

Actor Pavel Šimčík, one of Matyáš’ godfathers, is 205 cm tall, one of the few Czech actors taller than the baby giraffe.

The two baby giraffes are starting to transition from staying close to their mothers to spending time with each other.

The names of the baby giraffes were chosen by zoo breeders from the Czech name-day calendar according to the established rule of searching the week in which the giraffe was born as well as the week preceding and following.

Nubian giraffes are the tallest living animals, with adult males over five meters. They are highly endangered, with fewer than 2,000 in the wild.

The history of giraffe breeding in Prague Zoo dates back to 1954.

Other births that have already occurred at the zoo in 2019 include two West African siatungs, a type of small and colorful swamp-dwelling antelope, a Chacoan mara, a type of rodent from South America, a lechwe, which is another type of antelope, and an olive-brown lory, a type of parrot. The first birth of the year was an Indian takin.

The zoo this year will be doing more to support endangered species. From every entry fee, Kč 3 will go to projects, as opposed to the previous Kč 2.

Prague Zoo in 2018 saw some 1.4 million visitors, the third-highest level ever. Still, this was an unexpected success due to the high summer temperatures and the absence of the Stromovka footbridge, which collapsed at the end of 2017.

The zoo was once again rated fifth-best in the world by the travel website TripAdvisor, based on user reviews. It had been ranked as high as fourth in 2015.

The zoo was also successful in breeding last year with 1,340 babies from 219 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Prague Zoo currently covers 58 hectares with 50 hectares used for exhibits. It has over 4,700 animals from 681 species, including 144 species listed as threatened. The zoo has 12 pavilions and over 150 exhibits. The zoo opened on Sept. 28, 1931.

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