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T&T’s first giraffe bolts for freedom

Published: 
Thursday, December 5, 2013
One of the new giraffes at the Emperor Valley Zoo bolts out of its crate on arrival yesterday at his new home. PHOTO: BRIAN NG FATT

After five days travelling from Texas in an eight-foot-by-six-foot crate, it was not surprising that as soon as the crate opened, one of T&T’s first giraffes bolted for freedom. The giraffe, nicknamed Bolt by media personnel, trampled a wooden partition and ran past his new temporary enclosure but did not get very far. A galvanise fence, separating him from the Emperor Valley Zoo’s new African exhibit, blocked his way.

 

 

The giraffe appeared skittish and agitated but after waiting for him to calm down, zookeepers were able to guide him into his enclosure. His relative, another male giraffe, soon followed, without much of the excitement caused by his travelling buddy. Once both animals were safely inside, they were seen rubbing cheeks and licking each other as they ate dried acacia plants.

 

 

Minister of Tourism Chandresh Sharma was present for their arrival and said he was glad to see they had arrived safely. He said: “The giraffes coming to Trinidad will be good for us. We need to expose children to nature, more plants, more sources of water, to animals. “It will make sure that we become part of the research centres that are happening now.” Sharma described the costs of bringing the giraffes as minimal. Importing them cost approximately $500,000.

 

 

The expansion of the zoo for the African exhibit will cost an estimated $20 million. Sharma said the zoo was becoming too small now and reiterated Government’s plans to build a zoo in central Trinidad. He said a site had been located in Couva but could not say when work would begin. T&T’s first giraffes The giraffes are the first of their species to live in the Caribbean.

 

 

They weigh approximately 1,200 pounds each and at just eight months old, they are around nine feet tall and are expected to reach 17 feet by the time they fully mature, taller than some houses. They were accompanied by a pair of warthogs, costing $100,000, and were expected to arrive at the zoo at 9.30 am. Instead, after a holdup with paperwork at the airport, the animals arrived in wooden crates at the zoo at 11.15 am. People had gathered since earlier in the day to catch a glimpse of them, with one teenager waiting since 10 am.

 

 

They appeared equally excited to see their new home, craning their long necks to peek through spaces in the crates. Their travelling companions, the warthogs, were mostly ignored as the giraffes stole the attention of visitors. President of the Zoological Society Gupte Lutchmedial said they would be moved to the African exhibit in a few weeks, once its works were completed. He hoped visitors would come to the zoo and take advantage of the opportunity to feed the giraffes and interact with them.

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