Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone for the support they’ve shown Wingham over these last few months, it’s been overwhelming. It’s been nice to see that you guys love the animals as much as us keepers do. Doing the live talk/feeds have also been thoroughly enjoyable as well. I hope everyone finds themselves well and safe and I’m looking forward to catching up with you all in the near future, socially distancing of course!

It gives me great pleasure to do my blog this week on our tallest/newest members of the mammal section. By this point I really hope you have all guessed who it might be!

Spotting the difference

On the 25th March Wingham welcomed two Male Rothschild’s Giraffes Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi from Woburn Safari Park. Half brothers Ruedi and Robin have birthdays one day apart and have only recently celebrated their 3rd birthdays! Ruedi’s was on the 25th June and Robin’s was on the 26th June.

Its quite easy to tell them apart but I always say this as I work with them every day! Ruedi is taller and has a darker face whilst Robin is a LOT more confident. However, Ruedi is slowly coming out of his shell.

Giraffes at Wingham Wildlife Park, Kent.
A noticeable size difference. Reudi is on the left and Robin on the right.

This species is also known as the Baringo giraffe and is one of the most endangered of the nine sub-species of giraffe. They can be distinguished from other sub-species by their white leg stockings (which have no markings on them) so make sure when you come see them you check out those legs!

Rothschild's giraffe at Wingham Wildlife Park, Kent.

They have both settled in really well and you can see the difference and confidence in them both already. It’s even made Jerky the Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) more confident as well by having the boys around.

Giraffes and Blesbok at Wingham Wildlife Park, Kent

A tall order arrives

On the day before their arrival Team Mammal had a lot of work to do making sure the Giraffe House was ready for the boys. The winches were tested one more time then the browse was hung up (we knew that would be very high up on a Giraffes agenda), their bed needed making and fluffing up aswell. That probably took more time than it should have done but the bales we get in are massive and really compact and well, nobody likes a hard bed now do they?!

All the systems for the drinking water had another check too and the outside paddock was looked over. The final touch that gave the house a proper sense of imminent giraffe arrival was that sweet smell of Lucerne that wafted from the freshly filled food racks (I think I might even like it more than the giraffes themselves do!).

With the park being shut to the public on the day of their arrival it was a bit of a strange feeling. It didn’t have quite the normal buzz to it which normally happens when new animals arrive at the park. We were given an ETA but it seemed soo long away I just wanted them here now! Time passed quickly enough though and they must have eventually turned up at about 4.30pm.

Giraffe arrival at Wingham Wildlife Park, Kent

Ruedi and Robin were in a custom made lorry courtesy of Crossborder Animal Services. It was a state-of-the-art giraffe moving machine and it was quite impressive what it could do. Not just any old lorry, it had specialist mod coms that could assist with moving the large mammals. We couldn’t transport them how they did on The Hangover part III movie, it had to be done properly especially as they are the world’s tallest land mammal, growing up to 6m tall.

Now for unloading them. Would they come out on their own? Would only one come out? Or neither? Maybe they would like the new digs infront of them so much that they would both bolt out immediately. Who knew!

The lorry drove up to the big Giraffe House door and when everyone inside and around the lorry was ready the door opened. There they were, Ruedi and Robin were finally here and in front of me! After only a few seconds Robin came out and we could already see his confidence. He did a little walk up the corridor and then u-turned back to Ruedi in the lorry. Probably to update him on their new accommodation!

With a little assistance from some of  the mod coms that were on offer, it did not take long for both to be out in the corridor taking in their new surroundings. They eventually walked into the communal area where they had their feed buckets up and fresh water but I think they were more interested in looking around first and sussing the place out. Really, it took a couple of days for them to fully settle in.


Now we are nearly four months on- wooow has it really been that long?!

What a difference we have seen in them both. Ruedi I think out of the two has changed the most. He’s a lot more confident now and starting to hand feed from us but it’s always on his terms and when he wants to. Robin on the other hand is a gannet! He’s always coming over to us keepers to see what lovely treats we might have to offer him; he loves getting his tongue out as well and let me tell you it’s wet and rough! Whereas Ruedi is quite gently when he feeds from us and uses his lips more.

Giraffe with tongue out at Wingham Wildlife Park, Kent

On the whole it’s been such an amazing experience working with giraffes so far. They can be a dangerous animal but they have such a graceful presence about them.

Who knows what the next four months will bring, hopefully some more Giraffes, another Blesbok for Jerky and a nice big flock of Guinea Fowl for the outside paddock!

About Matt - Head of mammals