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Giraffe Zuri nears Wellington home

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/05/2016

A young giraffe making an awkward journey from Auckland to Wellington has reached the final stretch of her trip, but not without a few hitches.

One-year-old Zuri the giraffe has been poking out of a tall box on the back of a truck, amusing drivers across the North Island since leaving Auckland Zoo on Monday morning.

The team transporting the female giraffe has been documenting the journey, including a few rest and snack stops in Lake Taupo, Tokoroa and Bombay.

The trip has also included a few close calls and one squeeze with an overbridge in Auckland, although keepers say the giraffe is still looking relaxed and happy.

By about 6pm, Zuri had reached Waiouru where she met local schoolchildren and at 7pm passed Hunterville, about 180 kilometres north of Wellington.

At Wellington Zoo she'll be joining mother and daughter giraffes Tisa and Zahara.

Tisa is actually Zuri's grandmother, and Zahara is her aunt.

The trip is expected to end about 10pm.

Giraffes are difficult to transport, and the animal care teams at both zoos have had to consider all kinds of logistics for the move, including the safest route through Wellington to accommodate the tall crate, animal science manager Simon Eyre said.

"Zuri needs to be moved before she is fully grown, otherwise she would simply be too big to transport," he said.

Auckland Zoo's Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan said the move had been carefully managed.

"We've driven a giraffe to Hamilton before, but never as far as Wellington, so it will be a novel sight for many."

Zuri will be moved to the African Savannah at Wellington Zoo on Tuesday morning.

ZURI FACTS AND FIGURES:

* Born on April 23, 2015

* The offspring of male Zabulu and female Rukiya

* The granddaughter of Wellington Zoo's female giraffe Tisa

* There is just one species of giraffe, the world's tallest land animal, but nine sub-species.

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