Keepers at Wild Place Project have welcomed a new animal resident – and he’s three metres tall!
Tico, the 20 month old reticulated giraffe, arrived at the South Gloucestershire attraction from Copenhagen this week to join males, Tom and Dayo.
The youngster travelled in a special six-wheeled trailer with a roof which could be raised to give him plenty of head room. He was carefully unloaded before undergoing a visual health check by in-house vets.
Tico has joined Tom and Dayo in their 1.8-acre exhibit, which includes a purpose-built giraffe house within the attraction’s Benoue National Park exhibit.
Will Walker, Wild Place Project’s animal manager, said: “Tom and Dayo will be pleased to have a new companion. Giraffe are very social animals and enjoy company, so I’m sure Tico will be made to feel very welcome by the boys.
“We sadly lost Gerry, our four-year-old male giraffe, a year ago. It’s always preferred to have more than two giraffe within any exhibit so that they always have a companion if one ever was to die. It was really important to myself and the team to find a suitable replacement for Gerry as soon as possible.
“Tico is a couple of years younger than Tom and Dayo so it’s unlikely he will be seen as competition for them as they have an already established hierarchy”, Will added.
Male reticulated giraffe can reach a towering height of 5.5 metres in adulthood and weigh between 1,000 and 2,000kg.
The reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata) has a relatively limited distribution across northern and north-eastern Kenya, and small restricted populations persist in southern Somalia and southern Ethiopia.
An estimated 15,780 reticulated giraffes remain in the wild – a decline of over 50 percent from the approximate 36,000 three decades ago.
As a result of this decline, reticulated giraffes were added to the IUCN Red List and listed as Endangered in 2018.
Wild giraffe numbers have fallen from 140,000 to less than 80,000 in just 15 years. There are now fewer giraffes left in the wild than African elephants.
The three male giraffe at Wild Place Project link to an ongoing field conservation project to save one of the few remaining populations of Central African Kordofan giraffe left in the wild.
Experts from Bristol Zoological Society, the charity that owns and runs Wild Place Project and its sister attraction Bristol Zoo Gardens, have begun a critical research programme to map the habitat and conduct a population census of some of the remaining Kordofan giraffe in the wild using drone technology.
Grainne McCabe, Head of Field Conservation and Science, said: “Our mission is to establish whether there is a sustainable population of this highly threatened giraffe subspecies in the wild so we can work to conserve and help save them from extinction.
“This autumn we will be travelling out to northern Cameroon to try to census the animals using thermal imaging cameras mounted on drones in the hope of finding out how many are left and how they are using their habitat. We can use this information to design more effective strategies to protect the national park in collaboration with the Conservation Service of Bénoué. This is joint project with the University of Bristol.”
Wild Place Project’s giraffes live in the attraction’s Bénoué National Park exhibit, which is also home to zebra, red river hogs, eland and cheetah. The Cameroonian-inspired exhibit also includes a ‘market village’ with market stalls and decorations for an authentic African adventure.
There are multiple viewpoints into the giraffe house so visitors can see the giraffes at head height and ground level, including 'the hide' where visitors can spy on the three males through a telescope.
Our giraffe house is kindly sponsored by Dribuild