VIDEO: Hodari and Zuri are the Animals of the Month
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of the NEW Zoo and Adventure Park Animal of the Month. Each month The Press will bring readers a new animal featured at the NEW Zoo in Suamico.
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – Until the cold weather turns into spring visitors to the NEW Zoo and Adventure Park will have to visit this month’s animal of the month inside a special habitat.
Hodari, which means “brave” in Swahili and Zuri, which means “pretty” are two reticulated giraffes that call the Northeast Wisconsin Zoo home.
Both came to the zoo in 2004 and have been delighting and educating visitors ever since.
“We use volunteers to run it and people purchase leafs for a buck to feed them,” said Carmen Murach, curator of animals at the Northeast Wisconsin Zoo and Adventure Park. “It’s a lot of fun for people and we hear a lot of comments that this is one of the better giraffe feedings people experience.”
Reticulated giraffes call the African grasslands home in the wild, but in Suamico they don’t have to work as hard for their food.
In the wild giraffes typically roam the grassland in search of acacia trees and pull their meals from the thorny branches.
At the NEW Zoo visitors can feed them inside in the winter and when it’s warmer, they can feed the two from special giraffe feeding towers.
“They’re not particularly well insulated and they don’t handle cold temperatures very well,” Murach said.
Hodari weighs 2,490 pounds and Zuri is at 1,410. With both being nearly two stories tall, ice can also be dangerous for the couple, so they will stay inside until the weather is better.
As an endangered species the care and attention Hodari and Zuri recieve is important. The couple currently isn’t trying to have a baby giraffe, but that could change in the future.
“That’s a huge thing that zoos do,” Murach said. “We’re involved in the breeding programs with these species and that to ensure a diverse breeding population for the next 100, 200 years.”
The NEW Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is an organization that places emphasis on breeding programs and wildlife conservation.
The best way for people to support these programs is to come and visit the zoo, and maybe feed some produce to Hodari and Zuri.
“When you come and feed these giraffes and touch them, and feel them, and have them breathe on you, it’s really hard not to have that connection with an animal and not have a concern for them,” Murach said.
Those zoo admission fees help the NEW Zoo contribute to conservation programs in the wild.
“Because we are part of the AZA and linked with a lot of experts for various species, we’re able to make sure those conservation dollars are going to worthwhile projects that have a lot of impact,” Murach said.
As giraffes tend to do a lot of standing around the two at the NEW Zoo have their feet looked at daily as well as receive vaccinations and any other type of medical care.
Hodari and his outgoing personality helped Zuri get acclimated to the daily foot care, something that in other zoos can sometimes take years.
“Hodari, he can be dopey at times. He’s a big, pushy guy,” Murach said. “Zuri is more timid and takes a little bit longer to get to know people, more sensible in a lot of ways.”
Not only is the giraffe feeding one of the most popular spots for visitors, it’s also popular among volunteers.
“We have very dedicated volunteers who have been working here for years, and Hodari and Zuri show up in their Christmas letters,” Murach said.
Until March 31 the zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
More information on the NEW Zoo can be found online at newzoo.org.