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Auckland giraffe sets sail for Sydney

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/02/2017

Aucklanders will get one last chance to see the city's young male giraffe as he leaves his family and sets sail for Sydney.

Mtundu, Auckland Zoo's 15-month-old giraffe will on Tuesday make a trip from his enclosure to Fergusson Wharf, before he sets off permanently for Mogo Zoo in New South Wales.

The public will be able to catch a glimpse of the 500kg giraffe as he travels through Great North Road, St Lukes Road, Balmoral Road, Mt Eden Road, Symonds St, Anzac Ave and to Beach Rd from 1pm in a specially built crate, the zoo says.

The sea voyage on the container ship Hammonia Galicia to Australia will last three or four days and he'll be escorted by zoo staff, the zoo said.

"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," Zoo's Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan.

"On board, he'll be positioned in front of the bridge, protected from any adverse weather. Plus both myself and [vet] Melanie [Leech] will have access to him 24/7."

Once he arrives in Sydney, Mtundu will be driven to Mogo Zoo to be integrated with a new family.

Those not able to make it out can also track Mtundu's progress on the zoo's Facebook page.

His departure leaves Auckland's giraffe herd at four, including his parents and sister.

"We're naturally always sad to farewell our animals, and we'll especially miss Mtundu, who was, dare I say, a favourite," Ms Sullivan said.

The world's population of giraffes has fallen by up to 40 per in the last three decades and zookeepers say Mtundu's move is important to improve the regional breeding programme.

Last year, one-year-old giraffe Zuri made national headlines with an awkward road-trip from Auckland to Wellington, which included a squeeze under an overbridge.

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