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Contact(s):Susan Altrui
501-661-7208 (direct)
501-351-0273 (cell)
saltrui@littlerock.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Zoo Welcomes New Giraffe

LITTLE ROCK (July 5, 2006) - When Jigsaw the giraffe walked into his barn on the morning of June 29 he was surprised to find another giraffe standing in his usual stall and eating from his hay rack. Jigsaw cautiously approached the partition housing the stranger and peered over the gate door at his soon to be new best friend. The two locked eyes and a sense of calm immediately spread over the new giraffe that had just arrived at the Little Rock Zoo after a long trip from San Diego. Jigsaw licked the new giraffe affectionately and the two have been friends ever since.

The Little Rock Zoo is excited to announce the addition of a new male giraffe. The one-year-old giraffe arrived Thursday morning, June 29, from the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The International Species Information System (ISIS) and the Giraffe studbook coordinator recommended the giraffe as a companion for Jigsaw, the Zoo’s lone giraffe since the death of his father earlier this year.

Finding a companion for Jigsaw was challenging because Jigsaw carries a blood parasite called Babesiosis. In order to prevent the spread of the disease to offspring, Jigsaw cannot be paired with a reproductive female. An older male giraffe was not recommended as a companion because most are already set in their ways making animal introductions tricky. It was determined that a young male giraffe would be the best companion for Jigsaw.

At eleven and a half feet tall and 1,005 pounds in weight, the young giraffe is considered large for his age of just over a year old. At five years of age Jigsaw stands fourteen feet tall but is still growing. Zoo staff estimate that the new giraffe could be as much as a foot-and-a-half taller than Jigsaw when both are fully-grown.

Jigsaw and his new friend currently share the giraffe barn but are in separate stalls. They are in a “howdy” situation while the new giraffe is in quarantine. This situation allows the two animals to lightly contact each other while the two are separated by a partition. Once the new giraffe is given a clean bill of health after a thirty-day quarantine period and Zoo officials are confident the two giraffes are solid friends, zookeepers will begin acclimating the new giraffe to the outside portion of the exhibit.

An official name for the new giraffe had not been selected at the time of this announcement. Zoo officials are considering providing naming rights for the new giraffe with a donation to the Arkansas Zoological Foundation.

The new giraffe will not be on display to the public for several weeks to allow proper animal introductions and to acclimate the giraffe to his new home. Because the new giraffe is in quarantine, no pictures or video may be taken at this time. An exclusive press unveiling of the new giraffe will be announced in the next few weeks. Press may request digital pictures of the new giraffe taken by Zoo staff by contacting Zoo spokesperson Susan Altrui at the contact information provided above.

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit www.aza.org.
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