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Ontario park announces birth of first giraffe in Canada through artificial insemination

File photo: A newborn Rothschild giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is pictured together with its mother in an enclosure at the zoo of Rapperswil, Switzerland, Wendesday, Oct. 31, 2007.

STEFFEN SCHMIDT/AP

A wildlife park in southwestern Ontario is celebrating the birth of the first giraffe in Canada through artificial insemination.

African Lion Safari in Cambridge says the calf named Safari was born on Dec. 31, 2013 but only announced the birth on Tuesday.

The female calf, weighing 132 pounds and standing just under six feet tall, has since been introduced to the herd.

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African Lion Safari says this is only the second time in the world that a giraffe has been conceived through artificial insemination.

The calf is a Rothschild giraffe, a subspecies that is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It says there are less than 1,100 Rothschild giraffes in the wild.

African Lion Safari says overall, there are about 80,000 giraffes in the wild, down from about 140,000 in 1998.

"Using artificial reproductive techniques, we are able to preserve genetic material for future generations as well as to hopefully improve the exchange of genetics in the global giraffe population," said Jason Pootoolal, the giraffe and hoofstock supervisor at African Lion Safari.

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