by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
WEST ORANGE, NJ - A three-acre African Savannah Giraffe Exhibit is in the plans for Turtle Back Zoo. On July 15, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that the attraction will be the largest display at the zoo and will feature two types of giraffe subspecies along with other animals from Africa. The habitat will
include areas where the public will be able to view the giraffes feeding and will also feature a climate-controlled barn which will house the giraffes during the winter months. Closed-circuit cameras will be installed in the barn so that the giraffes can be viewed on a video screen in the Zoo Café.
It is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.
“We continually look for new ways to introduce
Following along with the Zoo's master plan, the giraffe exhibit is situated in the southern section of the zoo, behind the Animal Hospital and Train Station. The display is designed to house at least three giraffes and other animal species from Africa that are compatible with giraffes.
“It’s always a good day when you roll out a project like this,"
Known for their height and long necks, all giraffe typically grow to be about 16 to 18 feet tall. The Turtle Back exhibit will feature two types of the giraffe subspecies: Masai and Reticulated.
Masai, the largest subspecies of giraffes, are naturally found in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, and are the tallest land mammals.
They have large, distinctive, dark brown, vine-leaf shaped, jagged spots which are interspersed by creamy-brown irregular lines and are noticeably darker in color than other types of giraffes.
The most commonly-scene giraffes in zoos, Reticulated Giraffes are naturally found in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. They are slightly shorter than the Masai, and have large red-brown blotches with a white web-like pattern dividing them.
Currently, the two animals which will make their way to West Orange are located in Missouri in the Kansas City and Dickerson Park Zoos.
“We at the Zoological Society are excited
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, less than 80,000 giraffes remain in African (down from 140,000 in 1999) and they are quickly becoming an endangered species. The Turtle Back Masai giraffes will be included in a breeding program sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help bolster the species numbers.
The exhibit is being funded through the Essex County Capital Budget's Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.
The Essex County Department of Public Works will monitor the project to answer questions so delays can be avoided.
Along with DiVincenzo and Kerins, on hand for the groundbreaking were Essex County Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake, members of the zoo's volunteer Docent Organization and other governing officials. The Zoo is located at 560 Northfield Avenue, in West Orange.
Turtle Back Zoo
Acting Director Brint Spencer
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
Turtle Back Zoo is committed to providing an enriching recreational experience that fosters excellence in wildlife education and wildlife conservation. Formed in 1962 on a 15.5 acre section of the county’s South Mountain Reservation, the Zoo was designed by Tjark Reiss who created the exhibits based on Hans Christian Anderson’s nursery rhyme themes. The zoo opened on June 3, 1963 with a collection of 140 animals of 40 species and by ten years later the zoo’s animal collection had grown to 850 animals of 275 species. Since taking office in 2003, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo has spearheaded over $70 million in upgrades to the zoo. In September 2006, Turtle Back Zoo was granted accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. This distinct honor places Turtle Back Zoo among the elite zoos and aquaria of the United States and means that the zoo adheres to the highest standards for zoos in the country.