Philadelphians and visitors are reaching new heights with the Philadelphia Zoo’s latest adventure.
On Thursday, the Zoo, at 3400 West Girard Avenue, debuted its new Giraffe Encounter, a hands-on experience that brings visitors eye-to-eye with the three tallest residents. Participants will have a chance to feed the Zoo’s giraffe family, which includes Stella, Abigail and Bea.
“Philadelphia Zoo is excited to bring this all new experience to our guests,” said Philadelphia Zoo Chief Marketing and Experience Officer Amy Shearer. “Our giraffe family is quite popular, we expect a lot of interest in meeting and feeding these magnificent animals.”
For this experience, guests will pick-up browse, which is a variety of acacia and combretum trees, leaves, shoots, vines and herbs, and then ascend the new raised platform, to get closer and higher up to the giraffe trio. After feeding the giraffe, guests and visitors are then invited back on the standard path to take more photos and watch friends and family partake in the experience.
Philadelphia Zoo is home currently to three giraffes, including Stella (female) who was born on May 27, 2001, and her daughter Abigail (female), who was born on July 17, 2010; and Bea (female) who was born July 1, 2019 at Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, who arrived at Philadelphia Zoo on Nov. 20, 2020. Stella is Bea’s adoptive mother.
“Our new giraffe encounter is an incredible way for guests to get up close and personal with our tallest residents,” said Philadelphia Zoo Director of Mission Integration Dani Hogan. “Not only are we able to provide a truly unique opportunity for so many people, we’re also able to enrich and enhance the lives of our giraffes.”
Considered the tallest land animals in the world, giraffes can grow to be between 14 and 18- foot- tall. Their legs alone are taller than many people at six -foot-long. They can weigh close to 3,000 pounds. Along with their long necks, giraffes use their 18-inch-long tongues to grab the best leaves from the highest parts of the trees. They spend about half of their day browsing on leaves, although most of their feeding is done in the morning and evening when temperatures are cooler. They rarely sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, but do lie down to rest.
Listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with scientists estimating there are fewer than 100,000 surviving in the wild, giraffe are affected by poaching and habitat destruction, with populations decreasing more than 40% over the last three decades.
Giraffe Encounter tickets must be purchased at African Plains and cannot be purchased in advance. As the animals are adjusting, this experience is not guaranteed, and availability may be limited based on animal behavior, weather, or operational issues.
For information, visit philadelphiazoo.org