‘Ellie’, the 16-month-old female giraffe made the 4,510 kilometre journey to be paired with Perth Zoo’s breeding bull, ‘Armani’, as part of the Australasian Giraffe Breeding Program.
Senior Perth Zoo keeper, Kaelene McKay, said: “The latest research out of Africa indicates there is less than 80,000 giraffe roaming the African Plains. This makes zoo breeding programs vitally important and why Ellie is such a special new addition to the Perth Zoo family.”
Perth Zoo are experts at giraffe transfers having moved these majestic animals between Perth and zoos on the eastern states numerous times. The aim is to maintain genetic diversity between the regional populations to provide a safety net against extinction.
“Any animal transport is meticulously planned, but when you’re dealing with an animal as tall as a giraffe there’s added complexities,” said Kaelene.
"Although Ellie is young and still rather small for a giraffe we still had to map out a route with the transport company, Toll Group, to ensure we didn’t have any low bridges or over passes."
“And to assist with moving easily through the metropolitan area we had a green light corridor from the outskirts of Perth all the way to the Zoo gates. Having travelled through four Australian states we believe this is one of the biggest overland transports in the world for a giraffe,” said Kaelene.
In the months leading up to the move, Ellie was trained to ensure she was comfortable with her transport crate. She was also accompanied by a team of dedicated zoo keepers and veterinarians.
“Ellie is a favourite of the keepers at Australia Zoo. She has apparently inherited her mother’s sweet nature, is a very gentle giraffe but also outgoing. We have no doubt she will settle in well to Western Australia,” said Kaelene.
Ellie joins male Armani and seven year old female, ‘Kitoto’, who came to Perth Zoo from Sydney in 2016.
Since 1995, the Zoo has successfully bred seven giraffe, including Makulu who was photographed in the famous photo ‘The Kiss’. Makulu now resides at Melbourne Zoo with descendants living throughout Australia and New Zealand.
- Research by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature indicates that there has been a 40% decline in the number of giraffe over the past 15 years;
- Main threats to giraffe include poaching for bushmeat and habitat loss;
- Giraffe females become sexually mature at 3 – 4 years of age;
- Giraffe gestation period is 15 months.