Giraffes jump for joy at Brookfield Zoo

The giraffes at Brookfield Zoo jumped for joy Tuesday, January 10, 2012, at the chance to stretch their long legs outside during the unseasonably warm temperatures. (Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)
January 11, 2012 9:34:02 AM PST
The giraffes at Brookfield Zoo jumped for joy Tuesday at the chance to stretch their long legs outside during the unseasonably warm temperatures.

As far as officials at Brookfield Zoo know, this is the first time this has happened in January. The African animals that always spend the winter inside came outside Tuesday to enjoy the spring preview. And they knew it was going to happen before the zookeepers opened the doors. They were as restless as a willow in a wind storm and as jumpy as a puppet on a string. Is it spring fever? But it's not even spring.

"I'm sure they're very surprised by the fact that the doors are opening in January and they're being allowed outside," Joan Daniels, curator of Mammals, said.

But will they do their spring run? That's the real question. In this cold-enough-to-see-your-breath weather, will the giraffes think it's time for their rite of spring run? The answer, fortunately, for all of us, was: yes. They have been fooled by June in January; and they run and run with those fabulous graceful long-legged dance strides. It's wonderful for them. And for us.

"This is wonderful. We've been coming here for the past couple weeks and they've been inside. Now they're out. This is so fun," Amber Pettegrew, Brookfield Zoo visitor, said. "It makes me feel like spring."

It's only January, and any seasoned Chicagoan knows there's a lot of winter left. But what about the giraffes? Do they know this is just a one or two day gift? Or do they think this is April?

"I'm not sure if they're fooled into thinking this is spring but I'm sure they'll enjoy their time outside today," Daniels said.

Soon they will be back inside because these African animals just aren't built for the cold.

"They don't grow a winter coat. They don't hibernate in the winter like a lot of cold weather animals will do," Daniels said.

They might be outside again tomorrow. It all depends on the temperature.


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