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One Tank Trip: Feeding the giraffes at the Elmwood Park Zoo

Published On: Jul 02 2014 04:43:12 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 02 2014 05:45:48 PM CDT

You don't have to go all the way to the Serengeti to get a glimpse of a giraffe.

A long line of admirers are patiently waiting. It seems they all have the same lunch date. Hand-feeding the giraffes at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, Montgomery County, is the most popular attraction, according to Shaun Rogers, the zoo's marketing director.

Louis and Tamu are ready for you.

"They do what they want to. They are the world's largest land mammals, so they can rule the roost, but it's great to have them here," said Al  Zone, the zoo's executive director.

Turns out our photographer is quite the giraffe whisperer. One leaf handed out from him and Louis started munching. The zookeepers said giraffes eat about 75 pounds of foliage everyday.

"They eat romaine lettuce, and we have daily feedings where guests can come up and hand feed both Louis and Tamu," said Rogers. 

From one of two observation decks, you're eye to eye with five-year-old Louis, who is 14 feet tall.

"They have 18-to 24-inch-long tongues, so as long as you're comfortable with that, you might get a little slimy, but it's a lot of fun," Rogers said.

The giraffes are new to the zoo. They just arrived in May, but the zoo itself has been around for 90 years. It opened in 1924 with six acres of land. Now, it spans 16 acres, with more than 100 different species of animals.

Rogers said he hopes people just have fun.

"It's not just learning. It's also the wonder of seeing animals in natural environments," he said.