Giraffes put through paces

Trainee Keeper Ellis Robinson is putting our three giraffes through their paces during target training.

Working with Kubwa, Josie and Kito, Ellis, alongside Trainee Keeper, Josh Luxton, are getting the giraffes to touch a wooden target stick with their nose and hold for at least five seconds.

And each giraffe has a different coloured target stick, which they all recognise as their own.

Ellis said: “Once they touch and hold on their target, we respond with a clicker and reward with a piece of banana, which is one of their favourite treats.

“Target training is a great way to help get the giraffes to come to you, but the main use is for giraffe husbandry, as it allows us to safely get close to them and examine the tops of their heads and faces for example.”

Giraffes are naturally shy and sensitive animals, so the training, which is carried out in ten to 15 minute slots, can take many months as they grow in confidence.

Ellis added: “We’re working with them to pick up with their feet and eventually we’ll get them to place their foot on a block so we can carry out regular foot checks.

“We’re really happy with how it’s all going and the giraffes are always keen when they see us arrive with our targets and treats!”