Giraffes and Guests See Eye-to-Eye
|Director of Communications and Social Media|
Giraffes and Guests See Eye-to-Eye
Tall and proud, the giraffes at Giants of the Savanna are not above looking for a “handout” – especially when it contains a fresh green leaf of romaine lettuce. The new giraffe exhibit in the savanna offers a fun animal encounter at the Dallas Zoo as guests can choose to feed the animals when they gaze eye-to-eye with the tallest animal on land.
“Giraffes are the most amazing and unique animals in the world,” said Jeremy Dillon, giraffe supervisor. “The exhibit is not only designed to give the animals a large open space for moving around, but also provide guests with an up-close experience that connects people with the natural world in which we live.”
The long-legged herbivores eat a variety of fruit and vegetables — from alfalfa, grain, and fruit, to the leaves from branches collected at the Zoo. Large males can eat up to 75 pounds of food in a single day. Don’t worry. Giraffes do not bite in defense, and the only risk to guests is a firm tug from prehensile tongues when food is not released promptly.
Kibo, Jesse, and Jade giraffe moved from ZooNorth to join the new herd of giraffes in the savanna. They are being trained with the others to become acclimated to hand feeding. Tebogo is the largest and is the one most likely to come close for a snack.
Zookeepers also are working with animal behaviorists to teach the giraffes how to fully utilize their new spacious habitat, and they will begin to explore the larger acreage this summer.
Training extends to the indoor barn as well. As the giraffes enter and leave their 9,000-square-foot barn, they pass through a giraffe restraint device (GRD). The GRD is used to hold giraffes safely in place while zookeepers and veterinarians monitor and maintain the health of the herd by measuring their weights, caring for hooves, taking x-rays and blood draws, providing ultrasounds, giving injections, and more.
In July 2011, the Dallas Zoo celebrated the birth of Jamie giraffe, the first giraffe born at the Dallas Zoo in 23 years. Prior to Jamie’s birth, Kibo was the last giraffe born at the Zoo. Her parents, Hildy and Tano, were the oldest reticulated giraffes in captivity when they passed away.
Giraffe feeding etiquette:
1. Do not feed the giraffes food from your own home. They are on a strict diet.
2. Do not pet the giraffes. They’re very touchy about being touched.
3. Watch your personal belongings. Giraffes are not trained to fetch.
So give a hand to the new herd of giraffes – even better if it contains a cracker or fresh piece of lettuce.
About the Dallas Zoo: The Dallas Zoo, an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is the largest zoological experience in Texas featuring a 106-acre park, thousands of animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. The official airline of the Dallas Zoo is American Airlines. The Zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis). Admission is $15 for ages 12-64, $12 for ages 3-11 and 65+, and free for ages 2 and younger and Dallas Zoological Society (DZS) members. The Zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, download the free iPhone app, visit DallasZoo.com, or call 469.554.7500.
About the Giants of the Savanna: Take a trip on an African Safari at the Dallas Zoo. The Dallas Zoo’s Giants of the Savanna habitat, open since May 2010, provides an interactive experience for our guests built around the many different species of animals that will call the Giants of the Savanna home: elephants, giraffes, impalas, zebras, ostriches, lions, warthogs, red river hogs, guinea fowl, and cheetahs. Learn more about these animals while experiencing the unique aspects of their new habitat firsthand. As the summer unfolds and the animals adjust to their new home, each visit will be a unique experience.