POWELL, Ohio – The first two giraffes have arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s new Africa exhibit, which will open in May, 2014. Two three-year-old male reticulated giraffes, Conner and Dasher, were transported yesterday from the Binder Park Zoo in Michigan. As part of the Zoo’s routine animal health protocol, the giraffes are in quarantine in their new 180’ by 54’ barn.
Reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) are the most distinctively patterned of the nine subspecies of giraffe. Their coat has a brown, regular, box-like pattern (called a reticulated pattern) which provides good camouflage in the dry savannas andopen woodlands of northeast Kenya. A full-grown giraffe ranges from 13 to 18 feet in height and can weigh up to 2,600 pounds.
Moving a giraffe requires specialized equipment, a lot of planning and expertise. A giraffe trailer has a raised roof, a slip-proof floor, plenty of ventilation and extra bedding to make the statuesque creatures comfortable. The experienced transporter has to plan the trip carefully in advance in order to avoid routes that have low clearances such as some overpasses, power lines and trees.
The 43-acre Africa exhibit will be home to more than 100 animals. Large herds of hoofedanimals including giraffe (both reticulated and Masai), Grant’s zebras, wildebeest, greater kudu and Dama, Thomson’s and slender-horned gazelles, will browse and graze in a vast savanna alongside ostrich, saddle-bill storks, East African crowned cranes and guineafowl. Lions and cheetahs will prowl in their new habitats while vervet monkeys frolic nearby. Visitors to Africa can take a camel ride or pound on the drums in the village, which includes shops and an open-air restaurant, before seeing Jack Hanna’s favorite wildlife spots and learning about zoo-supported conservation projects that help protect these endangered and exciting animals.
The $30.4 million immersive experience is made possible through the generosity of Franklin County residents and funds raised through a property tax levy as well as corporate and private contributions.