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Great Western Highway traffic today will also include a four metre tall male giraffe called Jimiyu on his way from Western Plains Zoo to join Taronga's giraffe herd.

The 18 month old giraffe is coming from Dubbo to join the Zoo's four female giraffes, Hope, Nyota, Andara and Zaraffa, in their home with its famous Harbour view.

Jimiyu will arrive with a police escort on a low-loader in a special travelling crate, driving via the M7 and M2, Delhi Road, the Pacific Highway, and Military Road.  The zoos are very experienced in giraffe transfers, having previously brought the females Andara and Zaraffa to Sydney by road. 

Taronga Giraffe Keeper, Jimmy Sanders, said: "As Jimiyu matures, he will make an important contribution to the social dynamics of the Taronga herd."

"This social interaction is typical of the way modern zoos manage wildlife these days, making sure to replicate the animals' wild behaviours and display them in a natural manner that reflects their normal group dynamics."

Keepers at Western Plains Zoo have been familiarising Jimiyu with the travelling crate over the past few months, using techniques developed by the Zoos that use cooperation between keepers and animals to make the transfers easy and comfortable.

Jimmy Sanders said: "Jimiyu's special transport crate has been designed to give him the opportunity to look about during the trip to Sydney. Despite the giraffe's height, the lowloader will enable the convoy to travel comfortably under low bridges and low trees on its seven hour journey from Dubbo.

"As you can imagine, transporting a Giraffe when it is fully mature is all but impossible, so we move them when they are still young enough and small enough to fit onto the standard transport vehicle," he said.

Western Plains Zoo won't be short of giraffes after the departure of Jimiyu, with a herd of 12 in total, with five males and seven females.

The gestation period for a Giraffe is 455 days, and unlike other animals in the Zoo which we are able to ultra-sound or view closely, much of the diagnoses for Giraffe is conducted by observation and experience.

Taronga and Western Plains Zoos care for 4000 animals from over 350 species, provide conservation messages to over 1.5 million visitors and conservation education to over 100,000 school students annually. The Zoos also conduct a huge range of conservation research, breeding and in situ projects from Antarctica to Mongolia and throughout Australia and Asia, while providing wildlife health services to thousands of native animals each year.

Giraffe

(Giraffa cameleopardalis)

The Giraffe is found in Africa south of the Sahara Desert, generally in open woodland and wooded grassland.

The grow up to 5.3 metres tall and even at birth are about two metres tall.  Adults weigh up to 1.9 tonnes.

Adults can run at speeds of up to 60 kph.

Their attractive coats have patches of orange-brown, russet or black divided by a network of cream coloured lines.

Young are born after a 15 month gestation.  Giraffes live up to 28 years in zoos.

There are several sub-species mostly defined by their coat patterns or geographic location:

West African Giraffe - Kordofan Giraffe

Nubian Giraffe - Reticulated Giraffe

Rothschild Giraffe - Masai Giraffe

Thornicroft Giraffe - Angolan Giraffe

South African Giraffe

Unfairly described as looking like an animal designed by a committee, these stately plains dwellers are highly specialised and superbly adapted to feed on high foliage .

The giraffe is one of the most widespread and successful herbivores on the African Savannah.

The Giraffes 46 cm tongue is blue black, providing protection against the sun when the animal is using it to gather food.  A metre-long tuft of black hair on giraffes' tails is used effectively as a whisk against tetse flies.

Giraffe hide is very thick and their large hooves are used very effectively in defence, particularly of their calves.  The kick from a giraffe's front hoof can easily kill a lion and mothers will vigorously defend their young.

They are specialised and highly selective feeders existing on leaves and shoots of trees and shrubs and able to cope with the foliage of the thorny acacia

Giraffes are one of the few ruminants born with horns, which lie flat at birth.  Both sexes have horns which are covered with skin and have a tuft of hair at the tip.

Males use the horns and their heads to fight, also swinging their necks as a sort of battering ram.  Recent research suggests neck size in males is related to dominance.

For more information contact Media Relations:

Ph: +61 2 9978 4606
Fax: +61 2 9978 4511
Email: tzpr@zoo.nsw.gov.au

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