Three giraffe have moved into a new £1.1 million home at Bristol’s Wild Place Project.
The trio from Holland and Germany were brought to the attraction, near Cribbs Causeway over two days in a special six-wheeled trailer with a roof which could be raised to give the giraffe plenty of head room.
The world’s tallest animals were carefully unloaded before undergoing thorough health checks by Wild Place Project vets.
Then they were guided into their striking new home which has been built by Keynsham-based construction group Dribuild who are also the enclosure’s major sponsors.
The new purpose built giraffe house that is part of a 1.8 acre enclosure in Wild Place Project’s new Bénoué National Park exhibit is two storeys high with special viewing areas at ground and first floor level for guests. But some parts of the enclosure will be closed to visitors during this weekend to give the giraffe time to get used to their new surroundings.
Two of the giraffe are named Gerry and Tom. The name of the third will be chosen out of Bem, Dayo and Lesedi.
Bem originates from Africa and means Peace, Dayo means joy or happiness to come and Lesedi originates from a tribe in Southern Africa called the Sesotho and means Light.
The giraffe, aged 18 months, two years and three years, are fed on a diet of pellets which are made out of compressed acacia. They will also be given browse and Lucerne.
The giraffe house at Wild Place links to a new field conservation project to save one of the few remaining populations of Central African giraffe left in the wild. Experts from Bristol Zoological Society travelled to Cameroon to begin a critical research effort to map the habitat and conduct a population census of some of the remaining Kordofan giraffe using drone technology.
They hope to establish whether there is a sustainable population of this highly threatened giraffe subspecies that they can work to conserve and help save from extinction.
Wild giraffe numbers have fallen from 140,000 to less than 80,000 in just 15 years. There are now fewer giraffe left in the wild than African elephants.
Will Walker, animal manager at Wild Place Project, said “They are naturally inquisitive animals and are enjoying exploring their new surroundings.”
“I am thrilled to see them here. It’s 10 years since I have worked with them but they are my favourite species. There’s just something about their demeanour and their behaviour.
“They look down at you and they appear quite aloof and you never quite know what they are thinking. But they are such impressive animals.”
Nigel Simpson, head of operations at Wild Place Project, said: “Everyone has been looking forward to the giraffe arriving and it is great to see them already settling in so well. Thanks to the new Giraffe House our visitors will be able to see these lovely creatures both indoors and out.
“Their arrival is a major step forward for Wild Place but it is also crucially important in the survival of these graceful animals.”
“Kordofan giraffe are in very serious trouble in the wild with threats from habitat loss due to huge herds of cattle present in the area and poaching for bushmeat, these iconic animals are disappearing quickly and quietly towards extinction. If nothing is done to protect them, there is a real chance they will be lost forever.”
Bristol Zoological Society, which owns Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens, is a conservation and education charity that relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.