Hillcrest Zoo officials hope to move young giraffe to new pen

By Rick White: CNJ Managing Editor

Her new pad has all the amenities a female giraffe could ever want — wall-to-wall grass, a football field’s worth of running room, and even an enclosed shed with a 24-foot ceiling and central heating for those cold eastern New Mexico evenings.

But Jael, Hillcrest Zoo’s 3 1/2-year-old female giraffe, doesn’t appear eager to move.

Zoo officials have tried coaxing the 10-foot, 1,600-pound herbivore into a livestock trailer for the short move across the facility with everything from a human lasso to leaving a trail of her favorite snack — carrots.

“She just flat refuses to move,” Zoo Director Herschel Arnold said. “She must remember the trailer from the last time she moved.”

Jael was separated from her parents two years ago when she was purchased as a juvenile from White’s Animal Kingdom in Carlsbad.

Zoo officials are constructing a loading chute stretching 12-feet tall to force her into the trailer.

Fast facts:
Once in her new pen, Arnold said the zoo plans to purchase a young male giraffe by the end of the summer to keep her company and hopefully one day they will mate.

Female Rothschild’s giraffes grow as tall as 15 feet and weigh as much as 2,300 pounds. Living mainly in western Kenya and Uganda, their life expectancy is 20 to 30 years.
They are herbivorous, feeding on thorny trees and other plants. They spend much of their time each day eating and consume about 30 pounds of leaves a day.

A giraffe becomes sexually mature between the ages of 3 and 5 and has a gestation period of 14 to 16 months.

Source: Hillcrest Zoo

By the numbers:
6: Height at birth in feet

10: Jael’s current height in feet. She can grow to almost 15 feet

17: Length of adult’s tongue in inches

30: Top running speed in miles per hour

25K: Purchase price for Jael in dollars