Giraffes return to Edinburgh Zoo for first time in 15 years
Giraffes have returned to Edinburgh Zoo for the first time in 15 years with a brand-new hilltop home built in the capital.
Ronnie and Arrow travelled overnight from Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire and arrived at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) zoo at 9am on Tuesday.
The wildlife conservation charity has partnered with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky to bring the animals back to Edinburgh for the first time since 2006.
Jonathan Appleyard, Edinburgh Zoo hoofstock team leader, said: “It is incredible to welcome giraffes back to Edinburgh Zoo and we are so excited to start introducing them to our charity’s members, patrons and visitors after they have settled in.
“Numbers of giraffes in the wild have declined by almost 30% since the 1980s due to habitat loss and poaching, so this is a really important opportunity for us to raise awareness and support the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s work to save the species.
“Our brand-new giraffe house has been designed with high level walkways which means visitors will be able to meet these wonderful creatures face-to-face, giving them an amazing opportunity to connect with nature and be inspired to join us in protecting them from extinction.
“As they are the tallest animals in the world, it is very likely visitors will be able to spot our giraffes exploring their outdoor areas before we officially open to the public.
“We are so grateful to Glenmorangie and everyone who donated to help build our giraffe house and support our partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.”
Ronnie and Arrow will be gradually introduced to visitors over the coming weeks and up to three more male giraffes will join them.
The newly-formed bachelor herd of Nubian giraffes will take time to bond with each other and get used to their new home, before the giraffe house officially opens to the public in the middle of next month.
Julian Fennessy, GCF co-director and co-founder, said: “There are only about 117,000 giraffe remaining in all of Africa.
“Their numbers have dropped by almost 30% in the last three decades.
“As this decline has happened largely unnoticed, it is now time that we draw more attention to this silent extinction.
“Zoos play an important role in sharing this message and the new giraffe herd at Edinburgh Zoo can play a vital role in raising awareness and funds for the plight of their wild cousins in Africa.”