“Wasn’t that the funnest time?”
Caleb Cornett-Ching, age 4, has just emerged from an all-ages Family Giraffe Behind-the-Scenes. His younger brother Liam, age 3, had more practical topics he wanted to discuss.
“Does he poop? Can I touch the poop? Where he sleeps?”
All fair questions for zookeeper Romy Dupal-Demers to address during her 30-minute program. Designed to get families up close to one of our most beloved species, this interactive experience allows guests to leave the main pathways and venture into the giraffe back of house area. Normally off limits to visitors, attendees are treated to a small group talk in the giraffe bedrooms and a face-to-face greeting with Nabo, Carrie and youngster, Moshi. Well, due to the height difference it’s actually more of a face-to-knee greeting.
First time program participant, Jacqueline Cornett-Ching, had been an Engage member since Caleb was born, but has never bought tickets to a paid program before.
“With three boys under five years old, it didn’t seem like there were any options for us to get close to animals other than at the free Creature Features,” she shared. “We also worried how long their attention would last at a paid program but this was really great. I was happily surprised.”
With hands-on items such as a giraffe skull and tail hair, Romy guided kids and their parents through a giraffe 101. From talking about grinding teeth to seeing who had a long tongue like a giraffe, Romy shared details about our animals and the Calgary Zoo is working to help their wild counterparts. She gently quizzed the young zoo members and everyone was allowed to explore the items and bedroom space in a safe, structured manner. The kids even got a chance to stand on the actual giraffe scale and see how they compared. When asked who was heavier, the children or a giraffe, Charlie Larson, age 4, quickly counted how many hands he could fit from his toes to his head and declared, “I am 12 kilometers!”
Romy and fellow zookeeper, Kayla Weller, brought in a snack for the giraffes and allowed the kids to inspect today’s menu: carrots, celery and lettuce in a modified water cooler container. The food was affixed to the mesh barrier directly in front of guests and within seconds Nabo was showing off the dexterity of that 30 cm purple and pink tongue! The salad didn’t stand a chance.
Family Giraffe Behind-the-Scenes will be offered every weekend January through March and Engage and Inspire members receive a 30% discount at programs during this time. The Premier Giraffe Behind-the-Scenes is also discounted for Engage and Inspire members for kids eight years and older. Guests at the premier program will be given the opportunity to offer a snack directly to our giraffes during their 45-minute event. Sign up on the Calgary Zoo website here.