Meet our ginormous giraffe!
Monarto Zoo houses the largest giraffe herd in Australia. Seven females inhabit our drive-through habitat while a bachelor group of seven bulls is housed in an off-limits area of the zoo.
Monarto’s most identifiable female is Kinky, so named for the slight kink in her neck which happened at birth. She was born in 1999 and is known for her gentle, easy-going nature and will often come up to the platform for a feed during zoo keeper talks.
You can meet Monarto’s boys on a Giraffe Safari animal experience, where visitors get the chance to come face-to-face with these gentle giants. The stars of the show are Moja and Tambo, our two dominant bulls within the herd, who both have both played significant roles within the herd over the years.
In 1995, Moja (one in Swahili) was the first giraffe to be conceived at the zoo. This birth was a landmark event for that zoo as after his birth the giraffe herd went on to produce 37 subsequent calves until 2009, making Monarto Zoo the most successful giraffe breeding institution in Australasia.
Tambo is a pure Rothschild’s Giraffe and arrived from Melbourne Zoo in 2002. He can be identified by having heavier brows, a lumpier, bonier skull and a shorter, squatter appearance. He has played a significant role in the breeding program, producing 14 calves from 2003-09. He’s one of the regulars on our Giraffe Safari where visitors are able to hand feed him carrots, one of their favourite treats.
It has been five years since Monarto Zoo has bred a giraffe calf. The zoo is currently in the process of expanding our giraffe breeding facility, which will allow us to begin breeding giraffe again!
The giraffe is found in the arid and dry savannah regions of Africa south of the Sahara Desert wherever trees occur.
Giraffes form big, loose nomadic herds that wander the plains, feeding on vegetation as they go. They’re predominantly browsing animals, meaning they tend to eat leaves and bark off trees as the main part of their diet. This feeding pattern has allowed the giraffe to develop two very famous evolutionary traits – a very long neck and a very long, prehensile tongue that can extend up to 45cm! Both of these physical features allow giraffes to reach vegetation that is difficult to get to, giving it an advantage over other animals.
Giraffes are extremely picky eaters, favouring acacia trees, although they feed for up to 20 hours a day and consume approximately 30kg of foliage daily. A six-foot tall calf grows rapidly, as much as 2.5cm a day, and by six months old is fairly independent of its mother.
The giraffe has one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal, averaging two hours daily. Individual giraffes have a unique pattern on their coat, just like fingerprints are unique to each human.
It is estimated there are approximately 80,000 giraffe roaming the savannah plains of Africa. This number is declining as their habitats shrinks due to human population growth and an increase in agricultural activity, expanding settlements and road construction. The giraffe’s main food source, acacia trees, is also on the decline.
Love giraffes? Join our herd and ensure giraffes stay a stride ahead of extinction! There are many ways you can help support these gentle giants.