Male giraffe arrives at Clovis zoo

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks City Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell feeds an apple to new Hillcrest Park Zoo resident Jay the Giraffe. Jay was delivered at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, with city officials hoping he and Jael will produce offspring.

Kevin Wilson

Jael knew something had to be up, with the zoo closed and a captive audience on a Sunday evening.

Everyone else knew something was up, too, as Jay’s head poked out of a trailer that had traveled nearly 1,400 miles from Ohio to Clovis.

Jael, a female giraffe residing at the Hillcrest Park Zoo, got her first look at new mate Jay, as did about 15 who could show up for the early evening delivery.

The city agreed to purchase Jay from International Animal Exchange three Thursdays ago, with a budget transfer of $15,500 from the zoo admissions fund. That was combined with a $15,000 gift from the Citizens Bank of Clovis and covered Jay and his safe transport.

“We stopped every two hours, checked on him, made sure he had food and water,” said Bradd Biechler of African Safari Park, an Ohio-based company owned by IAE. “He’s a pretty relaxed guy.”

After taking a moment to stretch out, he looked around and grabbed some food from trees outside of the pen he will share with Jael. Slightly taller than Jael, Jay could reach some branches from trees Jael had picked clean to the best of her ability.

“He’s a big one,” City Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said. “I think they’re going to put some good offspring out.”

Only time will tell, Zoo Director Herschel Arnold said, if that will happen.

“It’s possible one will reject the other,” Arnold said. “It seldom happens.”

After Jay’s 5:28 p.m. arrival, the two were keeping their space. Jael normally has Moses the Goat as a companion, but he was moved out by zoo staff out of safety concerns. The giraffe pair will have a full day to get acquainted, as the zoo is normally closed on Mondays.

“It just happened, it wasn’t planned,” Arnold said. “It’s good, though. It will let him get a full day around the pen.”