Potawatomi Zoo looks to add giraffes

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:43 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Giraffes are expected to become a permanent fixture at South Bond’s Potawatomi Zoo this fall.

More than $4 million in private donations have been raised to cover the $4.8 million price tag for the Giraffe Feeding Adventure Exhibit.

Once the project is complete, rain or shine, hot or cold: Anytime will be giraffe feeding time at the zoo.

“They’ll take it right out of your hand. They have about an 18-inch long tongue, one of the longest tongues of any mammal, and its prehensile so wrap it around the lettuce and pull it out of your hand,” explained Josh Sisk, the Executive Director of the Potawatomi Zoological Society.

In the summer, face to face feedings will take place on raised platform overlooking a 2.5 acre outdoor savannah. In the winter they’ll take place in the climate controlled Giraffe Barn now under construction.

“The barn itself can hold anywhere from eight to 10 giraffes, but we’ll probably start with just three or four in the beginning with the potential of eventually being able to breed giraffes,” said Sisk.

The zoo does not buy or sell animals but there are a lot of assorted expenses involved in bringing the worlds tallest species to town.

“It is a little tricky to transport giraffes as you can imagine. It can be a little expense involved in that,” said Sisk, who added that there are only a handful of companies that are up to the task.

Furthermore, meeting the full dietary needs of the zoo’s new residents promises to be challenging.

“We’re actually going to have to reach out to our community to help us here. We’re going to be reaching out to talk about where we can get branches. We’ll have to go out and cut elm and mulberry. It’ll be one of their requirements for their diet is that they get branches.”

The zoo is also launching a $1.5 million fundraising campaign to build a new Lion exhibit where the chimpanzees used to live.

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