First giraffes in Wales find a home at Folly Farm
8:20am Wednesday 25th March 2009 in Video News
The first giraffes in Wales are in residence in Pembrokeshire, following a £1million investment by top tourist attraction Folly Farm.
The quartet of gentle giants went on show to the public for the first time on Saturday after being transported from leading zoos in the UK.
Half-brothers Ja Ja, Taharqa and Khama, from Marwell Zoo in Winchester have been joined by Rafiki from Flamingo Land in Yorkshire in a huge purpose-built African-themed enclosure. From there, they will been able to venture out into a five-acre paddock to roam alongside zebra.
"We've been working up to the giraffes' arrival for the past three years, so we are absolutely thrilled to have them here at last," said Folly Farm's managing director, Chris Ebsworth."They have settled down so well, and I can't wait to see them out in the field."
The arrival of the giraffes - known as 'the boys' - cements Folly Farm's status as the leading tourist attraction in Wales and a major player in the UK's zoo industry, as it becomes an active member of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP).
Not only has Folly Farm enhanced its visitor experience with the acquisition of the boys, but it has also done a huge favour to the other zoos. Explained zoo manager Tim Morphew: "This initiative is part of a programme to prevent cross-breeding and conserve the giraffe as a species. If we hadn't taken these surplus males, the other zoos would either have to construct separate enclosures at great expense, or stop breeding the giraffes completely."
The tallest of the group, and fully grown at 18 feet, is eight-year-old Rafiki, with his half-brothers aged between two and six and on course to also reach his lofty height. The boys - who are friendly and inquisitive, and love to be hand-fed by their keepers - are due to be joined by a fifth male giraffe from Flamingo Land next month.
Today (Wednesday), the giraffes are due to be the centre of attention at their official launch to coincide with Wales Tourism Week, where children from Templeton School will be amongst the first youngsters to view Wales' first giraffes. Welsh Assembly Government heritage minister, Alun Ffred Jones and tourism and marketing director Jonathan Jones are also attending.