At the Zoo: A head above the rest

Even baby giraffes are some of the tallest animals around.

giraffes 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimki)
giraffes 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimki)
The newest addition to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is already one of the tallest animals on display. Last week a newborn male giraffe joined the herd of seven giraffes at the zoo, and both mother and baby are doing well. The new arrival, which has yet to be named, stands at 1.70 cm. Although any successful birth is always good news at the zoo, giraffes can be a big problem because of their size. There just isn't enough room to house many of these animals, which can grow to five meters tall. The solution is to send some of the giraffes to other wildlife parks such as the safari in Ramat Gan. However, transporting an animal that can look in through a second-floor window has its complications. Giraffes may be the tallest animals in the world, but despite their size they are quite timid. It can take up to two months to coax a giraffe into a transport container, and then special low-bed trucks are required to prevent any headaches caused by low bridges. Zoo officials prefer to wait until the baby giraffes are at least two years old before sending them on a journey to another sanctuary. The zoo has two adult males and three adult female giraffes. Akia mated with Sharko and gave birth last week. The other two giraffes are still infants, at just a year-and-a-half. Sharko is the dominant male in the herd. He thrills visitors by peeing into the observation post in the enclosure. The mild electric fence around the lookout post is there to prevent a repeat of an earlier incident when Sharko nearly head-butted a hapless visitor. The giraffes spend most of their day outside, and only go into their shelter at night where they catch no more than a few winks. For all their size, giraffes usually sleep less than a couple of hours a night. Although giraffes are mild by nature, zoo keepers are cautious of coming within range of their long, lanky legs. Giraffes have a very powerful and accurate kick that deals a devastating blow to its target. It is for this reason that in the wild giraffes rarely have natural predators. Even lions are wary of taking on a giraffe. The baby giraffe will spend the next two weeks inside the giraffe house before joining the rest of his breed in the large open area that houses, among others, the zebras and the rhinoceroses. Visitors will then be able to catch sight of the newcomer and watch him as he grows and grows and grows.