Grasping the nettle

Chewing on a pile of nettles sounds painful – but it’s fine if you’re a giraffe with a seriously reinforced mouth and tongue.

2013_calendar_giraffe_1_web_0   Our rare Rothschild giraffes- nine-year-old male Kubwa, eight-year-old female Mia, and younger female, Josie, aged three, are enjoying generous servings of fresh nettles, mixed up with their regular meals of lucerne – a high protein clover-like legume which the animals eat as a staple food.   2013_calendar_giraffe_1_web_0   Assistant Curator, Richard Brown, said that nettles were a very healthy foodstuff for the giraffes, as the plant has a high concentration of vitamin C and iron.   .He said:?”The giraffes really enjoy eating nettles, it is one of their favourite foods.”Giraffes are classified as browsers, and have very tough mouths and their tongues and lips are unaffected by thorny branches or plants which can sting.   2013_calendar_giraffe_1_web_0   “We collect the nettles and hang them up in their feed baskets. We are also drying out some of the nettles to store and use in the winter, when fresh food is more scarce.”   He added:?”Nettles are fast growing and available from spring to autumn, so they are an extremely convenient and free source of nutrition for our animals.”  

2013_calendar_giraffe_1_web_0CAPTION: Senior Keeper Laura Robins feeds nettles to DZG’s Rothschild giraffes.