SOURCE: Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo

June 22, 2015 18:34 ET

Denver Zoo Celebrates Grand Opening of Giraffe Encounter, Made Possible by Toyota

Feature Offers Guests a New Way to Interact and Bond With Zoo's Reticulated Giraffes

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - June 22, 2015) - Denver Zoo is excited to announce the opening of Giraffe Encounter, Made Possible By Toyota. This new feature is a 2,400 square foot structure within the Zoo's giraffe yard that allows guests to feed and bond with the Zoo's giraffes. A grand opening ceremony this morning was attended by Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, Denver Zoo President/CEO Shannon Block, along with representatives of the six metro area Toyota stores that make up the Denver Toyota Dealers Association.

"We're absolutely thrilled to offer this amazing experience to our guests," says Block. "It's not only fantastically fun and educational, but it will also help build an even greater appreciation for giraffes and all animals."

Guests will be able to access the platform from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily this summer, weather permitting. During regular feeding times of 10-11 a.m., 12:30-1:30 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m., guests can pay to feed resident giraffes, Dikembe, Masika, Kipele and Heshimu. Tokens will be sold for $5 each at the platform's entrance in exchange for three pieces of lettuce at designated feeding areas. Guests are free to visit the space during feeding times even if they do not choose to purchase a token. Zoo staff and volunteers will be present on the platform to facilitate feedings and enrich guests' experiences and connections with the giraffes.

"The Denver Toyota Dealers Association is proud to once again partner with Denver Zoo on such a wonderful opportunity," says Denver Toyota Dealers Association President Deck Hughes. "Our six Hometown Toyota Stores strive to enhance our local community and we are excited to help this project come to life for Denver Zoo visitors."

Construction on the structure began in early April and ended in early June, taking about eight weeks. Since its completion, staff and volunteers have carefully acclimated the Zoo's four giraffes to the new structure and routine.

Who's Who in the Herd?

Dikembe
Male, born 12/31/1993
Aptly named after the former Denver Nuggets player, Dikembe Mutombo, this 16-foot-tall giraffe can devour a head of lettuce better than the all-star center could block a shot. Dikembe is a Colorado native, born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 1993. He is the Zoo's only male giraffe, whom keepers describe as curious and friendly. Since arriving at the Zoo in 1996, Dikembe has fathered a total of 16 offspring. When he's not busy munching on alfalfa or spending time with his favorite female giraffe, Masika, the 21-year-old enjoys playing with snow, given to him by keepers for enrichment.

Kipele
Female, born 8/16/1993
Kipele is the oldest of the three females and has been at Denver Zoo her entire life. Kipele is most well-known for being a great, attentive mother. She has produced seven offspring since 1993. She also has a playful, perhaps a bit mischievous, side to her; when the giraffe yard is being cleaned, Kipele has been known to enjoy trying to dump the keepers' wheelbarrows.

Masika
Female, born 5/13/1995
Masika may be Denver Zoo's shyest giraffe, but she certainly has no problem accepting treats from her keepers. The 20-year-old female was born at Denver Zoo in 1995 and is a half-sister to Kipele. Masika has given birth to seven babies since her time at the Zoo. Nicknamed the "Princess" by her keepers, Masika has a strong dislike for rain, and cold weather in general. If guests have a hard time distinguishing her from the other females, look for the one being followed around by Dikembe.

Heshimu
Female, born 9/12/2002
Heshimu, also known as Heshi, is the youngest in the giraffe herd. Born at San Diego Wild Animal Park in 2002, she arrived from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2007. Heshi has a very playful spirit. She greatly enjoys interacting with other animals and not just those of her species. She has been known to play or chase the peafowl and geese that make it into the giraffe yard. She has also made friends with Denver Zoo's Grevy's zebras, which reside in the adjacent exhibit.

About Denver Zoo: Denver Zoo brings education alive, providing a unique learning experience that sparks an interest in the natural world for visitors and program participants alike. Home to 4,300 animals representing more than 600 species, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care.

A leader in green action, Denver Zoo is the greenest zoo in the country and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the environment in support of all species by attaining the highest environmental standards. Since 1996, Denver Zoo has participated in about 600 animal conservation projects in 62 countries on all seven continents.

Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2015/6/22/11G045554/Images/giraffe_encounter_06-1280525901995.jpg
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2015/6/22/11G045554/Images/giraffe_encounter_04-1175689877049.jpg
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2015/6/22/11G045554/Images/giraffe_encounter_03-1317710079769.jpg
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2015/6/22/11G045554/Images/giraffe_encounter_02-1154052187073.jpg
Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2015/6/22/11G045554/Images/giraffe_encounter_01-930056237719.jpg

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Tiffany Barnhart
    (720) 337-1444

    Sean Andersen-Vie
    (720) 337-1418