The Chattanooga Zoo announces that the Zoo’s giraffe herd is here. The oldest bull of the herd arrived at the Zoo last Wednesday, and the two younger bulls arrived two days later last Friday. The whole herd is doing well and acclimating to their new home. officials said.
Through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, the Chattanooga Zoo received three male reticulated giraffes from the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans. The three bulls, five-year-old George, two-year-old Porter and
17-month-old Hardee Star, all lived together as a herd in New Orleans.
All three giraffes were transported to Chattanooga by a professional carrier. "Safely transporting a giraffe, especially across states, requires specialized equipment, planning and expertise," officials said. "The experienced transporter worked with both facilities to ensure the safety and comfort of the animals and carefully planned the best route from New Orleans to Chattanooga, to avoid any low clearances or hazards. The animals arrived safely and the transport went as planned."
Reticulated giraffes are a subspecies of giraffe native to the Horn of Africa. They have a relatively limited range across northern and north-eastern Kenya, with small populations in the southern regions of Somalia and Ethiopia. There are only 15,780 individuals estimated to remain in the wild and are listed as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List. Reticulated giraffes are threatened by habitat deconstruction and poaching.
"The Chattanooga Zoo is proud to be part of the efforts in saving this species in the wild by participating in the Giraffe SSP. The SSP is a cooperative breeding program along with many other AZA-accredited Zoos to ensure the survival of the species," officials said.
“There are no adequate words to describe what the arrival of giraffes at our zoo means,” said Dardenelle Long, Chattanooga Zoo CEO and president. “This is by far the greatest achievement to date for the little petting zoo that I joined almost 35 years ago. Thanks to our unbelievably talented staff through the years, the leadership and guidance from the Friends of the Zoo board and founders, the support of our city and state, the generosity of our donors and volunteers and the support and love of our entire community, we have achieved a towering feat which few had dreamed was possible."
Starting Tuesday, the Chattanooga Zoo’s giraffe herd can be viewed by the public inside the newly constructed giraffe barn or in their outdoor yard. Because of their flighty nature and that they are still settling into their new home, Zoo staff will be monitoring the giraffes closely and will make changes to the public viewing as needed.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, a grand opening event will take place later in the year to celebrate the arrival of the giraffe herd and other new species to the Zoo and the Phase I opening of the new exhibit, Makazi Ya Twiga. More information about the grand opening event to come soon.