ACT News

Mzungu the giraffe arrives at Canberra's National Zoo and Aquarium from Dubbo's Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Commuters out and about on Canberra's roads on Wednesday may have seen a truck with some unusual cargo – giraffe Mzungu.

The four-year-old female left Dubbo's Taronga Western Plains Zoo at 8.30am and arrived at her new home at the National Zoo and Aquarium shortly after 2.30pm.

Mzungu enters the gates of the National Zoo and Aquarium.
Mzungu enters the gates of the National Zoo and Aquarium.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan.

It's the Canberra zoo's first giraffe arrival since 2004 and excited staff flocked to the car park to take a look at their latest addition before the new star was whisked away into a quarantined area.

The seven-hour journey was difficult, the National Zoo's information manager Sally Bradley said, and unloading the four-metre tall giraffe into her brand new giraffe house was a delicate operation, but Mzungu appeared to take it in her stride.

Mzungu the giraffe takes in the views on the way to the zoo.
Mzungu the giraffe takes in the views on the way to the zoo. Photo: Jeffrey Chan.

"Giraffes are usually quite anxious animals, but apparently she's quite a calm and laid-back giraffe," she said.

"There's a special crate built for her which is lifted by crane on to the back of a flatbed trailer and hauled by a big truck.

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"They have to plan their route very carefully and go slow."

Mzungu travels through the streets of Dubbo.
Mzungu travels through the streets of Dubbo. Photo: National Zoo and Aquarium

Although the zoo regularly receives new animals, with the most recent addition of three rhinos to its new area, Mzungu was one of the largest to be transported.

Mzungu leaves Dubbo behind to start her new life in Canberra.
Mzungu leaves Dubbo behind to start her new life in Canberra. Photo: National Zoo and Aquarium

But she will be dwarfed by the zoo's resident male giraffe Hummer, who at 5.5 metres tall weighs more than 1300 kilograms.

Mzungu will become part of the zoo's breeding program, but it will be at least 18 months before visitors will hear the pitter-patter of tiny hooves with the zoo waiting for the arrival of another male giraffe to pair up with Mzungu.

Mzungu the giraffe peers out of her ride to the zoo.
Mzungu the giraffe peers out of her ride to the zoo. Photo: Jeffery Chan

"Giraffes aren't difficult to breed but it will be some time down the track," she said.

"We're always hopeful [of newborns] but you don't know how animals will click, they've still got to like each other.

"A giraffe's gestation is about 15 months."

Mzungu will be given time to settle into her surrounds in the back area of the zoo before the new wing tripling the size of the zoo is opened to the public later this year.

 

Ms Bradley said the zoo had a good relationship with Taronga Zoo and regularly exchanged animals.

"It is very exciting… it's been over 10 years since last our giraffe arrived," she said.

"It takes many months of paperwork and going through the government regulations of transporting animals particularly because it's interstate."

As well as the giraffes, the zoo's new area will be home to rhinos, zebras, cheetahs and other new species yet to be revealed.

Mzungu, the Swahili word for white one, was born at the Dubbo zoo to mum Asmara in 2011.

She had a rocky start to zoo life when she was accidentally kicked in the jaw by another animal not long after she was born.