Gather up your herd and head to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to see the new Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter in the African Savanna area today, featuring an entirely new giraffe feeding experience for guests.
The new giraffe feeding deck, which opened today, greatly expands the experience for guests, featuring a much larger deck area that is positioned farther out into the exhibit than the previous one was. Guests will still be feeding the giraffes Romaine lettuce as they did in the past, but the hours have been expanded and now run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through Labor Day. Romaine lettuce is $2 per leaf and is available at the giraffe deck site.
The Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter enables guests to get closer to the world's tallest mammal and gives them the chance to have an unforgettable experience hand-feeding the giraffes while learning about their plight in the wild.
After the two giraffe calves born last year, the Zoo's herd is up to six Masai giraffes, including males Travis and Jabari, and females Jhasmin, Jada, Grace and Adia. Giraffes are native to the savannas of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) are found in Kenya and Tanzania, near the Masai Mara National Reserve. The Zoo participates in the Masai giraffe Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Species Survival Plans are cooperative breeding and management groups for endangered or threatened species including black rhinos, African elephants, lowland gorillas and Amur tigers.
Giraffes are one of the most recognized animals on the planet. Surprisingly, their numbers have declined by nearly 40 percent in the last decade. The current giraffe population is now estimated to be less than 80,000 animals -- about one-fifth of the number of African elephants remaining.
Poaching, habitat loss and disease continue to threaten giraffe populations across Africa.
Male giraffes are capable of reaching 18 feet tall when fully grown. Giraffes can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. They have long, prehensile tongues, which are bluish purple, which they use to strip the leaves from tree branches in the wild. Giraffes typically live 15-20 years in the wild and a few years longer in captivity.
The Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter is named in honor of a generous Cleveland Zoological Society donor's father.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $16.95 per person, $14.95 for seniors ages 62 and older, $12.95 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo or call (216) 661-6500.