July 07, 2022
The Philadelphia Zoo is now offering visitors an opportunity to feed its three giraffes a variety of trees, leaves, shoots, vines and herbs.
For $6 on top of the general admission price — or $5 for members — visitors can stand on a raised platform to meet Stella, Abigail and Bea. Their 18-inch tongues are quick to grab food, so be sure to have your camera ready.
"Philadelphia Zoo is excited to bring this all new experience to our guests," said Amy Shearer, the zoo's chief marketing and experience officer. "Our giraffe family is quite popular, (and) we expect a lot of interest in meeting and feeding these magnificent animals."
The new experience is simple to access. Visitors can scan a QR code on their phones to purchase a ticket directly from the African Plains section of the Zoo. They will then be invited to ascend the raised platform and get up close to the giraffe trio. Afterward, guests can come back down to ground level and snap photos of the giraffes.
Stella is the oldest of the three, born on May 27, 2001. Her daughter, Abigail, was born in July 2010. Bea, who was born in 2019 at the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, arrived in Philadelphia in 2020 and became Stella's adopted daughter. The three enjoy browsing trees and leaves, and feeding each morning.
The experience — named Giraffe Encounter — will be open daily from 10 a.m. until noon, and then again from 1-4 p.m. In addition to being able to feed the giraffes directly, Giraffe Encounter teaches visitors how giraffes live and what their everyday lives are like at the Zoo and in the wild.
"Our new giraffe encounter is an incredible way for guests to get up close and personal with our tallest residents," said Dani Hogan, the zoo's director of mission integration. "Not only are we able to provide a truly unique opportunity for so many people, we're also able to enrich and enhance the lives of our giraffes. This is an unforgettable experience you can't get anywhere else."
Giraffes are the tallest land animals in the world, growing to 14-18 feet tall. Their legs alone can grow up to six feet tall, and they can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. Their long necks and tongues make it easy to browse trees and leaves for food, which they typically do in cooler weather in the mornings and evenings. Though they lay down to rest, they typically do not sleep for more than a few minutes at a time.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists giraffes as a vulnerable population, with scientists estimating that there are only 100,000 surviving in the wild. Giraffes are heavily impacted by poaching and habitat destruction in the wild, with populations decreasing by 40% over the last three decades.
All tickets to the Giraffe Encounter must be purchased at the zoo, and cannot be purchased in advance. You can check out the Philadelphia Zoo's website for more information about giraffes and other new immersive programming.