Nyuki the Giraffe

Education Corner

Animal of the Month


This month’s animal is Nyuki the Giraffe, one of two at Bee City Zoo. Nyuki is one of two reticulated giraffes at Bee City. He currently weighs about 2000 pounds now and could get to 4000 pounds. Nyuki is still a young giraffe and will grow for another two years to reach a height of 20 feet and them then he will fill out from there. They are native to the Horn of Africa and have a lifespan of 25 years. There are approximately 8,500 individuals living in the wild.[5]

The reticulated giraffe is among the most commonly seen giraffe species in animal parks and zoo.

Scott Biering says, “This one’s a male, they actually use their head to swing around and spar with other males. They use that neck as a weapon to fight and create dominance. Their feet and knee structure allows them to kick almost 365 degrees and is used as a defensive mechanism. As they get older the giraffe’s feet can get to the size of a dinner plate and their kick is very powerful.”

The markings on giraffes are very distinctive with brown and white line presenting a pattern that is as unique as a fingerprint.

Biering says giraffes are an important part of the zoos collection, “I call them Keystone animals, it brings a lot of foot traffic to the zoo. I was once told on you’re not a zoo until you have a giraffe. It’s an animal that brings a lot of people to the zoo. That increases ticket sales and allow us to provide bigger habitats for all the animals.”

Each animal has its own personality and quirks, Biering says, “Nyuki is little apprehensive and hard headed. You can move something in here, he’ll look at it for a minute and he’s good to go with it. He’s really observant and really cautious, but just like all giraffes he does not like you put hands around his head. If you bottle feed them as babies, it creates other issues, but it does get them where you can pet them.”

Bee City is planting acacia trees which are a big part of their natural diet. They have an exotic food supplier that has dieticians that formulate foods to supply all the requirements of their diet.

The reticulated giraffe is not a herbivore so they cannot get cold as they have zero body fat. Their heart is so far away from their brain it’s not designed to pump hard, so the animal has to stay warm. Bee City’s building has three sources of heat and backup generators for the protection of the giraffes. The building also has the ability to be monitored online 24 hours a day.

The giraffe enclosure is named the Archie Biering Giraffe Experience in honor of Biering’s father. “Creating Memories of a Lifetime” it’s on the sign as you walk up to the habitat. This is very fitting as you can get up close and interact. Nyuki can be seen at Bee City Zoo.