Feeding giraffes at Perth Zoo: Like travelling in your hometown

A couple of months ago I took my son to Perth Zoo on his fourth birthday for a bit of a treat. The funny thing was, this treat turned into a special experience for me too, with that same thrill I get from travelling. Perfect!

Getting close to the animals at Perth Zoo

Going to the zoo wasn’t the real treat for my son – we are members of the zoo and go often. On the day of his fourth birthday, he was finally old enough to do something we’d talked about for as long as he could talk – feed the giraffes!

To be fair, my son’s favourites at Perth Zoo are the gibbons (understandably), and my favourites are the giraffes, but he does love them too, and, well, you have to be over 16 and quite rich to meet the gibbons! We were both really excited about finally being able to climb the steps to the platform above the giraffe enclosure and get face-to-face with the giraffes. Yes, I admit I was as excited as an excited four-year-old!

Feeding the giraffe at Perth Zoo, Western Australia

Our hungry new giraffe friend at Perth Zoo

Feeding the giraffes at Perth Zoo

We got to the giraffe enclosure and joined the other half dozen people ready to climb up to that platform. A couple of the volunteer docents there gave us the rundown and we learnt that we actually only get to feed one giraffe. Not because the zoo is trying to restrict things – because the male giraffe has figured out how to restrict things! He gets all the extra leaves and in the past has bullied the females away, to the point where they now just stay away. What a meanie!

My son learnt really quickly that you need to hold on tight to your branch when the giraffe comes along to strip some leaves off it. He really did have a massively long, black tongue, almost a bit unnerving, but it was really cool to see him up so close.

Feeding giraffes at Perth Zoo, Western Australia

Feed me, says this giraffe. No, not my female friends over there.

That travelling feeling

My son didn’t stop talking about his giraffe feeding experience for the rest of the day. We both left the zoo on a bit of a high, I think, and I certainly recognised in me that same feeling I usually get when I travel somewhere new. I guess that having a unique experience, even if it’s in my hometown at a place I regularly visit, is something akin to travelling.

My animal stuff disclaimer: There’s a little part of me which doesn’t know for sure if keeping the giraffes in captivity and feeding them (their natural food, I hasten to add) from a platform is definitely an OK thing to do or not. But there’s a bigger part of me that knows that thanks to this experience, my son (and me, for that matter) feel more connected to the animals, more likely to do something to help them survive, and more likely to travel far and wide to do so. That’s stuff you never get just from watching a documentary on YouTube.

As for gratitude, though, that giraffe needs some training in manners. Once the leaves were gone, he turned his back on us and trundled off immediately!

Feeding the giraffe at Perth Zoo, Western Australia

Leaves ran out … giraffe ran off. OK, thanks, bye!

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Comments

  1. I love giraffes, they just are so cute yet entertaining. This post makes me feel like visiting a zoo with my kids!

  2. That is a cute giraffe. Bet that was a fun time.

  3. What a lovely story. I love how you go to the zoo often and still get excited about different things to do there. It is a wonderful zoo though, isn’t it? Your experience took me back to our days in Africa when you could see Giraffes but not get close to them … I think both experiences have their place and perhaps the Zoo kind and actually being able to feed a giraffe is more meaningful for a 4 year old.

    • Oh Jo – you do make me envious!! I would love to see giraffes in a more natural setting = one day! But you’re right, for a four-year-old, this version is probably better.

  4. Perfect timing to read this gorgeous story Amanda! We are off to the zoo this Saturday, for my daughter’s birthday. She’s taking her brother (believe it or not) and 3 friends. Fingers crossed the kids and the animals all play nice!

  5. HilaryMcWilliam says

    Lovely post Amanda,I think zoos have a definite place in conservation and Perth Zoo is a very good one

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