After relocating from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in early November, young giraffe Kitoto has found her bearings in the big city.
Kitoto is settling into life in the Giraffe herd at Taronga. Within two days of her arrival, Kitoto was meeting zoo visitors in behind the scenes tours, and getting involved with visitor encounters, even though her head barely reaches the feeding platform.
As Kitoto enters the third week in her new home, her place in the herd with male, Jimiyu, and females, Nyota and Zarafa, has been established. “Jimiyu and Zarafa have been really good with Kitoto,” giraffe keeper Renae Moss said. “You’ll often see Jimiyu hanging out with her or Kitoto licking Zarafa’s mane. They’ve actually been very attentive and gentle with her.”
Considering the exhibit at Taronga Western Plains Zoo was open savannah, with quite different shelters, Kitoto has had a steep learning curve. “She’s had to get used to a lot of different things like leaf blowers, vehicles that drive past, helicopters that fly over the zoo and the thousands of people that walk past,” says Renae. “But she’s taken everything in her stride.”
The transition has been relatively smooth. When Nyota, the eldest and tallest of the herd, met Kitoto, she was scared of the young giraffe. Renae says they now happily stand and feed side by side, but sometime Nyota remembers her fear and runs away from little Kitoto.
Kitoto also remains nervous of the two unfamiliar shelters at either end of the paddock. The keepers work daily on encouraging her to go into these historic Giraffe Houses, especially with the other giraffes. “We have to clean around her in the mornings,” says Renae. “She just wanders around the paddock. Occasionally she’ll come and sniff our bins or tools but generally she just keeps to herself.”
Kitoto’s playful, friendly nature has helped her to settle in, and her confidence is growing day by day.
“It’s all been pretty easy,” says Renae. “We just have to get her in the house.”
See the progress at keeper talks, daily at 1:30pm.