A 4500-kilometre journey might seem like a tall order for a 16-month-old, but juvenile giraffe Ellie has successfully made the long road trip across the country from Queensland’s Australia Zoo to Perth.
The 420-kilogram giraffe arrived at Perth Zoo on Thursday morning after leaving the Queensland tropics four days ago and crossing the Nullarbor.
Ellie is still young, but at her new home she is expected to eventually become a vital part of the Australasian breeding program – introducing much-needed genetic variety into the giraffe population.
Perth Zoo keeper Kaelene McKay was with Ellie for every mile of the long journey.
“There has been a lot of planning involved in this trip and today [Ellie] arriving has made it all worthwhile,” Ms McKay said.
“She was actually really good, very calm. She’s popped her head out for feeds.”
Once the giraffe entered Perth, her arrival was carefully planned to ensure minimum distress to the animal.
Powerlines were lowered, traffic was cleared and Ellie even had a police escort to make her journey as safe as possible.
Ellie set to partner Armani
Senior zoo staff said Ellie would be getting some much-deserved rest after the mammoth journey before she was made available to the public.
Ellie’s arrival is key to the giraffe breeding program – with fewer than 80,000 of the animals roaming the African plains.
“She’s still quite young, just a little bubba,” Ms McKay said.
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“They become sexually mature about around three to four years old, so she’s got a little while yet to become girlfriend and boyfriend with Armani (the seven-year-old male giraffe at Perth Zoo).
“Giraffe numbers have declined quite dramatically in the last 14 to 15 years.
“At Perth Zoo we are just moving forward with our breeding program, so we’re really excited to contribute to that.”
Ellie joins Armani at Perth Zoo along with seven-year-old female Kitoto, who arrived from Sydney last year.