Iris Blooming at Melbourne Zoo on World Giraffe Day

21 June 2022

She's still the new girl at Melbourne Zoo, but young giraffe Iris is already blossoming in her healthcare training thanks to her love of healthy snacks.

Iris only arrived at Melbourne Zoo in April, but is settling in beautifully and was a Zoo crowd favourite for today’s
World Giraffe Day.

World Giraffe Day celebrates the world's longest-necked animal on what is also the longest night of the year in
Australia.

Despite being almost 3.5 metres tall, 18-month-old Iris is still dwarfed by her older companions, 10-year-old female
Nakuru and three-year-old male Klintun.

Melbourne Zoo Ungulates Keeper Luke Hausler said, despite the size difference, Iris has proved herself to be a quick
learner, rapidly picking up new healthcare training skills.

"Iris is settling in really well. She has been an absolute superstar since she arrived. She hasn’t missed a beat and has
really taken to our training programs," Mr Hausler said.

"We are doing a number of training programs with Iris. We have done weight training and we are now doing some
target training with her. Target training is basically offering her a targeting stick or pole and getting her to orient
herself to that, making contact with that. That's what we call a foundational behaviour which then allows us to lead
into other important behaviours like dental X-rays.

"Iris has been so engaged from the get-go. She is so food motivated, she is really loving lettuce and carrots and
those things that she finds really, really reinforcing."

Giraffe are classified as Vulnerable in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. 

Threats faced by Giraffe in the wild include loss of habitat due to expanding human settlement and poaching.

Melbourne Zoo is part of a regional breeding program for Giraffes, with the overarching objective to raise awareness and support for
the conservation of Giraffes in the wild.