Heads up! Honolulu Zoo welcomes pair of new, endangered giraffes

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 1:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a double-dose of cuteness now on exhibit at the Honolulu Zoo!

A pair of baby reticulated giraffes, gifted from the Albuquerque Biological Park, recently arrived in Honolulu.

Neelix, who is roughly a year and a half old, and Sandi, who is 11 months, just finished 30 days in quarantine, and zoo officials are now trying to get them acclimated to their new home.

“They’ve been exploring a little bit, getting used to their new area, stretching their legs,” said Brian Underwood, one of the keepers at the Honolulu Zoo.

Neelix, a male, and Sandi, a female, are not brother and sister, but are related. The duo was introduced to their exhibit on Thursday, and animal enthusiasts of all ages rushed over to check them out.

Zookeepers say they’ve been feeding the giraffes hibiscus and monkeypod branches. Their long tounges allow them to strip leaves from thorny branches.

“They’re roughly around ten feet. She’s a little shorter, females only grow to about 15 feet or so,” said Underwood. “The boys will be about 19 feet, so they got a lot of growing to do.”

Getting the pair to Honolulu was a tall order. After a two-day road trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Los Angeles, the animals were then flown to Oahu in a cargo airplane and even had a police escort to the zoo.

“They did really good on the plane, nice and quiet,” said Tyris Perreira, the Honolulu Zoo’s mammal curator. “Sandi was actually lying down in the crate during the ride. That’s very interesting, because they don’t really lie down unless they feel comfortable.”

The young giraffes are slowly being introduced to the zoo’s 20-year-old resident giraffe, Squirt.

Right now they’re in seperate pens, and while Neelix and Sandi seem very intriqued by their elder, it appears Squirt could care less about his new roommates.

“He’s been perfect. He really just ignores them, so that’s exactly what you want,” said Perreira.

Reticulated giraffes are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and through the Species Survival Plan program, the zoo hopes to bring in another female to mate with Neelix.

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