Your Family Can Feed a Giraffe a Snack

By Christina Elston

Los Angels family fun

Take your turn offering a snack to Masai giraffes at the L.A. Zoo during daily giraffe feeding sessions. PHOTO BY JAMIE PHAM

Put “feed a giraffe” on your bucket list – then check it right off by pitching in at one of the Los Angeles Zoo’s new giraffe feedings. Just $5 gets you three acacia stems – one of the giraffe’s favorite foods, plucked fresh from the zoo landscaping – to feed to one of the zoo’s Masai giraffes.

You’ll be so busy watching that 18-inch tongue stretch to collect acacia leaves and marveling at those long-and-flirty eyelashes that you might miss a few of the cool facts zoo education specialists are on hand to share:

  • Giraffes are the world’s tallest land mammal.
  • The skin on their legs is especially tight to help counteract gravity and make sure the blood can make it 14 to 18 feet up to their heads.
  • Giraffe mamas are pregnant for 14 months, and their babies weigh 100-150 pounds and are six feet tall at birth.
  • Giraffes eat 70-80 pounds of leaves a day, so these feedings are just a snack.

Hour-long feeding sessions take place at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily at a fence at one end of the giraffe enclosure. It is up to the animals whether or not they’d like to wander over and meet the public, but the acacia leaves usually lure them in. One of the friendliest is Zainabu, one of the zoo’s three adult female giraffes. The others are Hasina and her daughter Sophie. Also in the giraffe enclosure are Phillip, Zainabu’s son Mark, and a new female calf born in November to Philip and Hasina.

The feedings are part of the zoo’s yearlong 50th anniversary “ZooLAbration,” but there is another important reason the zoo wants to forge a deeper connection between these magnificent animals and the families that come to visit. In December, the conservation status of giraffes was moved one step closer to “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Due to habitat loss and poaching, giraffe populations in Africa are declining, and the animals are now considered “vulnerable.”

Supporting the L.A. Zoo and its conservation efforts (and coaxing a giraffe to bend its slender neck to retrieve a treat) is one way local families can help.

Zoo admission is $20 for adults and $15 for ages 2-12. Tickets for giraffe feedings are available for $5 cash only at the exhibit just prior to feeding times. Learn more at www.lazoo.org.

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