Come eye-to-eye with a Giraffe
Friday 31 March 2006
A new state of the art exhibit ‘Into Africa’ opens at London Zoo
No matter what your height, everyone can come eye to eye with a giraffe at London Zoo’s most exciting new exhibit – Into Africa. A brand new, state of the art exhibit, featuring an innovative, high-level viewing platform will bring visitors eye-to-eye with our giraffes for the first time. Into Africa also sees the return of zebras to London Zoo, which have been absent for over 8 years. Featuring giraffe, zebra, warthog, African hunting dogs, okapi and red river hog, Into Africa allows visitors to have close encounters of the animal kind through new glass viewing areas, periscopes and observation windows.
But there is a serious message behind the design and build of new exhibits. Building without bars signifies the changing face of London Zoo. Allowing people to get closer to the animals and gain a more intimate experience can spark an interest in conservation which will stay with them their whole life.
95% of people surveyed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said they preferred enclosures without bars, and 74% said their visit had raised their awareness of the plight of animals in the wild. And acting as a ‘gate way’ to conservation seems to be working, with 59% of people more likely to support animal conservation projects following a visit to London Zoo.
David Field, Zoological Director, Zoological Society of London said:
“These results are great news for animals. By allowing visitors to get up close and personal to the animals in exhibits like Into Africa, we can stimulate their passion for animal conservation and ultimately help conserve important species, like African hunting dogs, which are endangered in the wild. It’s also great to have zebra back at London Zoo after 8 years, and they make great neighbours for our giraffes which can now been seen from a new high level viewing platform. There’s nothing quite like coming eye-to-eye with these majestic animals!”
Into Africa is landscaped to represent an African savannah, with the new enclosures telling the animals’ intriguing stories of survival, camouflage and predation. Information will also be provided on their status in the wild and conservation projects linked to the animals. At feeding times, visitors can hear more about our giraffes and zebra group, and may even help feed them.
Photographs available on request.
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Notes to editors
African Hunting Dogs
African hunting dogs, also known as painted dogs because of their paint-like markings, were originally from sub-Saharan Africa – from the Sarahan Desert up into the lower forests of Mount Kilimanjaro.
There are now estimated to be less than 6,000 hunting dogs remaining in Africa.
They live in packs and roam around over the plains and in the bush, covering up to 31 miles per day.
They hunt in the morning and early evening, approaching their prey silently and then pursuing them for up to an hour at speeds of up to 41mph.
Giraffes have the same number of bones in the neck as we do – seven.
Valves in their neck prevent the blood rushing to their heads when they bend down to drink.
Baby giraffes stand at about two metres tall (6ft 6in) at birth, while a fully grown giraffe can be up to 19ft tall.
They are found in central, eastern and southern Africa.
Each zebra has its own stripe pattern. The zebras recognize each other by their stripe pattern and by their smell.
They have a distinctive call, which can be described as a frequently repeated barking whinny more similar to a donkey bray than a horse whinny.
In the wild, families gather together at night while one family member remains awake to look out for predators.
Are zebras white with black stripes…or black with white stripes? In Africa, they are generally considered to be black with white stripes – because the skin under their hair is all black.
Joanna Green - 020 7449 6236 - firstname.lastname@example.org