On the 20th of September, we welcomed a new male giraffe to our resident group. Sifa, a 5-year-old Rothchild’s giraffe, arrived at around 8pm on Wednesday after travelling all the way from Dublin Zoo in Ireland. This is a pretty big milestone for us because he’s the first male giraffe to join our gang since 2010. The European Endangered Species Programme recommended this move, so you know it’s the real deal!
Sifa made the journey from Dublin in a special transporter, designed to accommodate his impressive height of 18 feet. Thanks to some top-notch training by his Dublin Zoo crew, he strolled into the trailer all by himself and then chilled on a straw bed for rest of the journey.
Sifa’s journey here wasn’t just by road; it also included a sea voyage from Dublin to Holyhead, which took about 3 hours and 40 minutes. Animals can only enter the UK through official Border Control Points, which might not always be close to where they are going. From Holyhead, Sifa had a 337-mile road journey, taking around 6 hours to get here.
Organising a successful animal transfer, especially from outside the UK, can be a very tricky business. As well as the necessary paperwork and veterinary health checks, the participating zoos also share information on dietary requirements and any unique behaviours or preferences that the animals may have. This careful planning ensures the best possible fit for their new home.
Large Mammals Team Leader Suzi Marshall shared her excitement saying, ‘We are thrilled to welcome a new male into our giraffe tower. We are used to having an all-female group, so we were a bit taken aback by how tall he is, he’s a good couple of feet taller than all our girls! We wanted to make him feel welcome as soon as he arrived, so we laid out a delicious dinner of willow. He made himself right at home and started tucking in right away!’
Sifa has already been successfully mixed with his new companions Harriet, Bella and Ruby and they seem to be hitting it off. Make sure to pop along and say hello next time you are in the park.
Out in the wild, giraffe populations have dropped by about 30% since the 1980’s, leaving only around 117,000 individuals remaining. Rothchild’s giraffes are now considered to be an endangered species with fewer than 2000 left in the wild. Zoos and safari parks like ours play a fundamental role in preserving the future of this species through captive breeding programmes and contributions to in-situ conservation efforts. So, let’s give Sifa a warm welcome and help protect these majestic giraffes!