The staff at Tasmania Zoo have stuck their necks out to ensure the safe arrival of their new residents, with two young giraffes arriving just in time for Christmas.
Half-brothers Hunter and Tallbert were born at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast six weeks apart about 18 months ago, and are the first giraffes to set hoof on Tasmanian soil.
Hunter and Tallbert completed the four-day journey from Queensland to the Launceston zoo on december 19, arriving on a SeaRoad ferry with assistance from freight company CEVA logistics, Zoo 2 Zoo transport, a team of keepers and a vet.
As zoo owner and manager Rochelle Penney explained, the opportunity to welcome the two giraffes first presented itself near the time of their birth, which was "right in the middle of COVID".
"Zoos around the world have been doing it really tough financially, so it was a really hard decision to make, whether we do this for Tassie or not.
"It was just too big of an opportunity not to take, and also for the species, so we said yes."
Building Hunter and Tallbert's enclosure has been a long process, due to difficulties sourcing materials and labour shortages since the onset of COVID.
"We've been working for 18 months trying to get the facility finished and the move itself has also been quite extensive, with lots of factors - obviously trailers and heights and roads and lots of different things.
"The boys are also reaching maximum height for transport to Tasmania, so if we had left it any longer, basically, these two boys wouldn't have been able to make their way here because they would have been too tall, logistically, to get them here.
"As it was, they had their own police escort through Melbourne."
Hunter and Tallbert are already about twice the height of Ms Penney, who said the pair had plenty of growing left to do, especially if their family heritage is anything to go by.
"They're almost 3.5 metres, but they'll continue to grow until sexual maturity, which is around five years of age.
"But they have the same father, whose name is Forest, at Australia Zoo, and he recently made it into the Guinness World Records book for being the tallest giraffe in captivity ... Forest is 5.75 metres tall."
The giraffes are currently undergoing their own version of social isolation at zoo in a purpose-built seven-metre shed and adjoining enclosure, but Ms Penney was hopeful they would be making their way to their new enclosure in the coming days.
"They are venturing outside into our holding area here, so people can still see them from a distance, but we're just giving them some time, because it was a really, really big, long journey for them.
"They're really relaxed and going really well but we just want to give them the time to settle in.
"We're hoping within the next week they'll be out on exhibit but we'll let them determine that."
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