Wild on WANE: Giraffe VIP Experiences

Meet Jelani. He’s one of the 8 giraffes you’ll find in the African Journey at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. He stands 16.5 feet tall and weighs in at over 2500 pounds. They have about 18 inch long tongues. And they’re kind of like an elephant trunk, so when they’re eating from trees, they’re gonna wrap that tongue around, pull the leaves off right into their mouths.

Zoo staff make puzzle feeders multiple times a day. These are filled with a salad of willows, hay, grain, and lettuce.

The zoo has giraffe VIP experiences. The VIP experience is a guided tour lead by a giraffe keeper, so if you’ve got any questions about these tall animals, they’re experts.

Underneath each giraffes spot, there’s a series of blood vessels. And that allows them to release body heat – and that, in Africa, is fantastic. It gets pretty hot there, that helps them to cool themselves off. Their hearts are about 2.5 feet long and weigh 25 pounds. But, their blood pressure and pulse is twice that of humans – that blood has a lot of ways to go. Zoo staff agree that the VIP experiences are more than just fun, they’re an important step in saving the giraffe population.

The Reticulated Giraffes – which is the kind that we have here at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo – have had about an 80-percent drop in their population in less than 15 years, which is huge. It’s a very serious problem. The main goal is to educate people and let people know that giraffes need our help. People can learn about how to support giraffes.

If you’ve been to the zoo this season, you’ve probably seen the newest addition to the herd: Kiango. He’s not quite a year old yet and he’s already 10 feet tall and weighs in at just over 900 pounds. The folks at the zoo were ecstatic to welcome baby Kiango last summer…and he turns a milestone this summer. According to Zookeeper Aimee Nelson:

Well, he’s about to turn one year old, which is very significant. Some of the baby giraffes in the wild don’t make it to their first birthday – in fact, about 50-percent don’t make it. This is actually a really really big deal. So, of course we’re going to have a celebration. Guests are welcome to come and sing him happy birthday. We’re going to have a set time and we’re gonna have a cake made out of his favorite foods – willow, apples and sweet potatoes. There’s going to be all kinds of activities, things you can learn about giraffes.

Mark your calendars for Kiango’s birthday celebration on June 14, 2016 and book your own giraffe VIP experience this summer!

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