Auckland Zoo's young male giraffe Mtundu sets sail for Sydney this evening, bound for a new life at Mogo Zoo as part of the Australasian zoos regional breeding programme for this threatened species.
Travelling with the 15-month-old on his 3-4 day sea voyage on Hamburg Sud's 42,000 tonne container ship, the Hammonia Galicia, will be with the Zoo’s Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan and vet, Dr Melanie Leech.
Public may catch a glimpse of Mtundu being transported in his purpose-built crate from approximately 1pm as he makes his way to Ports of Auckland's Fergusson Wharf. (The route will be Great North Rd, St Lukes Rd, Balmoral Rd, Mt Eden Rd/ and shops, Symonds St, Anzac Ave, to Beach Rd. Check the Zoo's Facebook and twitter for progress).
Nat Sullivan says while it's always quite a tall order to take the world’s tallest land mammal to sea, she is hopeful that Mtundu will take his big 'O.E'. in his stride.
"Mtundu's a very relaxed giraffe with a lovely nature, and that's really helped with his crate training for this trip, which has gone extremely well over the past few months. On board, he'll be positioned in front of the bridge, protected from any adverse weather. Plus both myself and Melanie will have access to him 24/7 so he'll also have the security and comfort of familiar faces, and we’ll be able to monitor him closely," says Nat.
On-board luggage for the 500kg giraffe will include medical supplies, and plenty of food options – from Lucerne and Puka browse to pellets and a variety of fruit and vegetables.
From Sydney, Mtundu will have a road journey south to Mogo Zoo where he will be integrated with his new giraffe family.
"This is a positive and important move for the regional breeding programme, but we’re naturally always sad to farewell our animals, and we’ll especially miss Mtundu, who was, dare I say, a favourite, and a great time waster! He loved to play fight with his dad Zabulu, and was playmate for our new female Kabili, who was born on New Year’s Eve," adds Nat.
The global giraffe population has plummeted by up to 40% over the last 30 years, and the species has now been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund supports the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) whose work and research efforts have contributed to genetic analysis uncovering that there are now believed to be four species of giraffe, not one, as previously thought. These findings highlight the urgent need for further in-depth study of the four genetically isolated species to help inform future conservation efforts: https://giraffeconservation.org/2016/09/08/genetic-analysis-uncovers-four-species-giraffe-not-just-one/
Auckland Zoo will be posting updates on Mtundu’s journey on its Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
Giraffe Fast Facts
Auckland Zoo giraffe Mtundu, born on 21 August 2015, is the offspring of 19-year-old male Zabulu and 7-year-old female Kiraka. With Mtundu's departure, the Zoo's giraffe herd now stands at four; Male Zabulu, adult females Rukiya and Kiraka (Mtundu's mother) and female calf Kabili (meaning for "twice in Zulu") – the surviving calf of twins born to Kiraka and Zabulu on New Year’s Eve.
Since 1998, habitat loss and poaching has resulted in giraffe populations plummeting from 140,000 individuals to just 80,000 individuals today.
Giraffe are now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List.
Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund supports the research and conservation work of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) whose work and research efforts have contributed to uncovering that there are now believed to be 4 different species of giraffe, not one, as previously thought; These are northern giraffe, southern giraffe, reticulated giraffe and Masai giraffe.