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Giraffes set sail for Australia

Auckland City Council

Media release

19 November 2008

Giraffes set sail for Australia

Aucklanders may be in for a tall surprise as two young giraffes make their way through the CBD en route to Auckland’s downtown port tomorrow afternoon (Thursday 20 November) to start their maiden voyage across the Tasman.

One-year-old Forrest and his half-sister, 16-month-old Ntombi, are crossing the ditch to begin new lives at Australian zoos. Both are from genetically valuable bloodlines, and as part of the Australasian regional breeding programme, it is hoped they will breed in the future.

Their seven-day ‘cruise’ first docks in Tauranga to collect more freight before sailing to Sydney. Once there, the leggy twosome will travel by road to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, central New South Wales. Ntombi will remain at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, while Forrest will be one of the first giraffes to call Australia Zoo home after he completes a quarantine period with Ntombi.

Moving giraffes between zoos is a tall order, requiring considerable preparation both prior to boarding and during the voyage. Both giraffes have been ‘crate trained’ to enter their 4.2m high crates and be as comfortable as possible They have also been vaccinated and micro-chipped with identification information.

“We are hoping that the current settled weather we’re enjoying will continue and keep the seas smooth – which should help the giraffes to find their sea-legs quickly. Forrest and Ntombi have grown up together and seem to enjoy each other’s company. They’re also very supportive of each other, so completing the trip together and having visual access will bring them added comfort and security,” says acting Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan.

“The loss of Forrest and Ntombi will be sad for the zoo and in particular we think Rukiya, who is Forrest’s mother and has cared for Ntombi after the death of her mother Kay earlier this year, will feel their absence. However, their relocation is to diversify bloodlines with future breeding, and we hope Rukiya will also breed again here at the zoo.”

On board ‘giraffe luggage’ includes food supplies such as 100kg hay, 25kg pellets and 60kg vegetables, tools to make any adjustments to the crates whilst sailing, enrichment devices like boomer balls, and medical supplies. The siblings will be accompanied on board by acting curator Michael Batty, who knows the giraffes well, and zoo vet, Dr John Potter.

Departure route and information

• The giraffes will travel on two trucks and are expected to put their heads out of their crates, so people should be able to see them as they go past

• The giraffes will depart Auckland Zoo at 2pm on Thursday, 20 November

• They will travel via Great North Road to Karangahape Road, then down Symonds Street and Anzac Avenue to the Ports of Auckland

• Their expected arrival at the port is 3pm.

Best vantage spots to see the giraffes

• The zoo expects the giraffes will put their heads out of their crates as they travel along and this is most likely when they are stopped at traffic lights

• Grey Lynn shops on Great North Road at approximately 2pm

• Karangahape Road at approximately 2.05pm

• Symonds Street at approximately 2.15pm.


• Forrest and Ntombi are 3.3 to 3.4m tall and weigh approximately 500kg each

• They will stay in their crates throughout the voyage and sleep standing up (as all giraffes do)

• Each crate weighs 2.5tonnes. Total freight with giraffes on board is six tonnes

• Each crate is 4.2m high, 2.8m deep and 2.8m wide – this is enough room for Forrest and Ntombi to lie down, but it is unlikely that they will

• Their ship, the ANL YARRUNGA is approximately 10,000 tonnes.


© Scoop Media

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