Friday was World Giraffe Day and also summer solstice, celebrating the longest necked animal on the longest day (or night depending on your hemisphere) of the year.
Wyatt loves giraffes. They are his favorite (coincidentally, his favorite colors are also orange and yellow..) We were already planning on celebrating solstice in our own small way, by eating summery fruits like strawberries and getting together with some friends, but when I read about Giraffe day, I decided to make a whole day of it. Billy even took the day off from work so that he could celebrate with us all day as well!
We headed out early, basically waking up and packing up our “adventure backpack” as we call it and hitting the road, zoo bound. The giraffe festivities at the zoo were starting at 10, but I like to get to the zoo, or anywhere, right when they open as I have found places are less crowded earlier. We found the parking lot empty and the zoo almost to ourselves when we got there, and since we had time before the giraffe day things we visited some of the new exhibits, like the red panda’s new enclosure, with its rope swinging bridge, which puts zoogoers closer to the treetops where the red panda’s hang out, and the arctic exhibit which is usually jam packed. We had both exhibits to ourselves, which was kind of neat, especially the arctic exhibit. I finally got a chance to view the artwork that is inside! We were able to get very close to the glass as well with our kiddo, so close that a passing seal startled him a little! Most of the seals at the Detroit Zoo have cataracts and would not be able to survive in the wild and it is amazing how they still can perform their water acrobatics and swim and dive with limited vision. Nature is so cool.
After checking out the most popular attractions, we went to our other favorites, the wolves and the bears, who were all out and up front and center that early in the morning. I have actually never seen either the wolves or bears so close to visitor areas, we were able to get great views of them. By the time we were done, it was time to head over to the giraffes, our whole reason for going!
The zoo had volunteers standing by to answer questions, as well as information tables and signs laid out everywhere. We saw the skull of a giraffe, and signed the card for Kuvali, the mom giraffe at the zoo. We have a family of giraffes, Kuvali, Jabari (dad), and Mpenzi, their son at our zoo, and they were showing off in the yard, playing and posing for photos.
Wyatt and I had been doing some reading in preparation for World Giraffe Day, to expand our (my) knowledge of giraffes, and I learned quite a few crazy things! We learned that the collective noun for giraffes is a tower, which makes sense, and that giraffes actually have the same number of vertebrae in its neck as a human. Giraffes also have blue-black tongues to protect the tongue from sunburns, and fight by swinging their necks around, which I never want to see.
Sadly, these gentle, quiet, beautiful creatures have become endangered. According to bornfree.uk, giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40% in the last three decades, and less than 100,000 remain today. I hate hearing about all of our animals slowly disappearing; it is hard to imagine a world where these magnificent beasts no longer roam. To read more about their plight and what you can do, visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation here. I have already signed up to make a monthly donation and “adopted” a giraffe, but there are other ways to help, which can be as easy as just making people aware that these amazing animals are in danger.
How about you? What is your favorite animal?