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Giraffes hold fort in Paris zoo rebuilding

07-27-2012 14:54 BJT

When major refurbishment work started at Paris zoo in 2008, some 1,200 animals were moved to other zoos, mostly in North Africa. But 17 giraffes were left behind in the middle of the construction site and have learned to co-exist with bulldozers and cranes.

"Morning girls, breakfast time!"

The Vincennes zoo on the outskirts of Paris has been closed for renovation for four years, but the ’girls’, grown giraffes in fact, are still getting all the care they need.

Agami, the oldest at 30 years, Aurore, Ariane, Gati and 13 other giraffes were the only animals left behind when the bulldozers moved in, plus a few lemurs.

It’s obvious that they welcome the occasional visitor.

Eric Dugas, Keeper, Paris Zoo "Giraffes are very curious animals, but also very fearful. That mix of curiosity and fear is a danger for us and for them. When they’re afraid they panic and anything can happen."

In theory it would have been best to spare the sensitive creatures the noise and upheaval of the construction work.But their five-metre height and 1,000 kilo weight make them somewhat hard to move.

Plus family values are deeply ingrained in giraffe life.

Alexis Lecu, Head Vet, Paris Zoo, said, "We could have never found a single zoo that could have accommodated this big herd, so we would have broken up the herd to place them in different zoos and that would have been bad because they’re attached to each other and their little social network."

So the giraffes have kept their usual space and routine. And they’ve clearly adapted to their noisy neighbours.

Alexis Lecu said, "It’s really not a problem for them. We’ve even had three births this year."

In six months the herd will move to a much bigger space and that’s where they’ll await the re-opening of the refurbished zoo in two years’ time.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source:

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