Giraffe herd settle in to their new home
The Rothschild's giraffe herd have spent the past few weeks settling into their brand new, state-of-the-art house on the Road Safari.
The new building provides fantastic facilities for the animals including high-tech air sampling fire alarms (that won't be triggered by dust), entire building insulation and special fans that recirculates heating back downwards and around the house.
Keeping the herd warm
Due to giraffe needing to stay warm for their health, the heat aspect of the new house was a major priority for the keepers involved in the planning of this new house. Giraffe find it very difficult to conserve body heat, so even the building's concrete floor has been insulated.
Lindsay Banks is a senior keeper within the Reserves section of the Park, but has worked closely with the giraffe over the 13 years she's been at Woburn. For her, it was extremely important that everything was done with the animals' best interests in mind.
She said: "Giraffe are very social animals and the layout of the house has been designed to maximise the natural social organisation of the herd. The loosebox area of the building can be accessed by keepers from a mezzanine floor, so feeders and water can be replenished with very little interaction and interference between the animals and the keepers."
The outside communal yard features an abrasive, yet cushioning, substrate which is very important for the giraffe's hooves and joints. This is often where visitors will be able to see the giraffe during the winter months as they tend to stay close by the house due to the danger cold weather poses to the animals. The communal loosebox (living area) provides a large, warm indoor area where the giraffe can live, feed and socialise together.
The low energy LED lighting replicates the natural day length as this is very important for giraffe, who will tend to only sleep for a very small amount of time each night. Remote controlled gates within the house have been designed to cause minimal stress to the animals and allow their keepers to move them between pens safely. The house also features a separate area for Woburn's breeding bull, Caspar, as well as pens for veterinary procedures.