Giraffes return to Blackpool Zoo

FANCY getting face-to-face with the world's tallest creature? This is your big chance.

These three lovely ladies are the newest additions at Blackpool Zoo.

The Gazette can give readers an exclusive sneak preview of three female giraffes who were brought over to the resort attraction last week.

Since then, the trio have been settling-in and getting used to their new home, before being shown off to members of the public for the first time this weekend.

Caoimhe, five, and sisters, Ciara, who is also five and Sive, seven, travelled to Blackpool from Fota Zoo, near Cork, in Ireland, in a specially designed trailer.

More than 500,000 has been invested in the new giraffe house and pens, which are designed to allow visitors to view the animals from different levels.

The public will be able to see the giraffes – who stand at between three and four metres tall – from a wooden walkway outside and also inside the giraffe house – from ground level through glass and from a platform where they will be able to look the creatures in the eye and hopefully, in time, help feed them.

Hayley Rothwell, section head for large mammals at the zoo, said: "They had been in a wildlife park in Ireland with a herd of 13, so they are getting used to being in a small group in their new home, which is a bit different for them.

"We have been settling them in, getting them used to moving in and out of the building.

"The keepers have been coming down and talking to them. It's early days yet, but we are starting to see a bit of their personalities.

"Sive is a bit jumpy. She is the one who has tried to kick us, and she is the one we think we will have to keep an eye out for. The other two have stuck together like glue, everywhere one goes, the other goes."

Darren Webster, director at the zoo, said the giraffes – the first at Blackpool Zoo since 1993 – had been brought back by popular demand.

He said: "Visitors surveys and feedback showed giraffes were the key species people wanted to see.

"It's been a big project, about two years in planning, to bring them back.

"We wanted to allow people to see them from ground level and see how tall and how amazing they are, but also allow then to see them face-to-face and potentially help with some feeding."

If the new tall attractions prove successful, bosses are hoping to bring in several more.

And one of the next projects will be introducing penguins back to the 52-acre attraction.