We took a business trip to the Central Florida Zoo on Saturday afternoon to shoot some reference photos of giraffes. The tail end of spring break in Central Florida meant that the Zoo was mobbed. We ended up in overflow parking, looking at each other like “Who’s idea was this anyway?” Right about then Doug said to me, “watch out for that ant mound.” Too late, I now have a very itchy blister on my baby toe. However, nothing was going to squelch my excitement over the new giraffe exhibit.
Fuel for the Adventure
We started the morning by having breakfast with our son Connor at First Watch in Longwood. I invited him to join us at the Zoo, but he had visions of longboarding around the neighborhood. “As much as giraffes intrigue me, I think I’m going to hang out with my friends.” he said with a smirk. Kids. In fact, this would be Doug and My first trip ever to the Zoo without the kids, they grow up too fast.
Towers and Tree Tops
As Doug was shooting photos, I learned a lot about giraffe’s from the Zoo’s expert. I found it super intriguing (Connor) that giraffes only need 5 to 30 minutes of sleep in a 24-hour period (for fear of predators). I wish I could get by on that, think about how much more productive I could be! A herd of giraffes is called a tower, their legs are six feet long and their heart is two feet long, weighs 25 pounds and their lungs can hold 12 gallons of air! The older male giraffe Ratikki, was 18 feet tall, while the younger Embah was 12. We looked up at the giraffes as they looked down at us from way over the top of the fence. Doug was pretending he was in Africa, shooting most of his shots avoiding the enclosures.
Giraffe Facts and Figures
There are nine subspecies of giraffes, all of which are based on their coat. Ratikki is a Rothschild’s giraffe, one of the most endangered subspecies. The zoo expert told us that there are only 87 of these left in the wild, in the world. That’s amazing, isn’t it? This giraffe is easily distinguished by the coloring of his coat or pelt, the patches are dark with smooth edges and the connective channel is deep cream color. Since he was older, he had a more lumpy forehead. Sigh, it’s tough getting old. The zoo expert told us that these are calcium deposits that become more prominent with age.
Embah is a reticulated giraffe, this kind of giraffe is one of the most well known subspecies and most common in zoos. Embah was born in captivity and is only two years old. In fact, he came to Central Florida from Lion Country Safari Adventure in West Palm Beach. He was definitely more shy, he lingered toward the back of the enclosure and was not enticed by waving branches or romaine lettuce leaves, much to the chagrin of the kids who wanted to feed him. (Despite picky eating, this young giraffe is already 16 feet tall and 2400 lbs.) In fact, both giraffes were very cautious and slow about moving toward the front of the enclosure and posing for us. You have to be patient with them.
Work and Play
Overall it was a great day visiting the Central FLorida Zoo, we got to see the many changes the Zoo has implemented in the years since our teenagers were toddlers. Doug spent most of his time photographing the giraffes for my reference as I have an upcoming HUGE painting project for Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan which I plan to make all about these amazing animals. I have painted several giraffes in the past few months, enjoying the color and creativity of their spots. I’m looking forward to using Doug’s photos as reference for the shape and positions of their heads and necks. He captured so many other wonderful animal images, there may just be a warthog in my future. Hmmmm…. or not.
click on any of Doug’s amazing photos to enlarge.
Thank You for
being a part of my