Long journey to Wellington over for Zuri
South Waikato residents got a were surprised to see a giraffe in the back of a truck on the main road on Monday.
Zuri the giraffe spent more than 12 hours on the road as she travelled south from Auckland to her new home at Wellington Zoo.
She caught the attention of schoolchildren in Tirau, had a late lunch about mid-afternoon in Tokoroa, and endured a chilly 4 degrees Celsius when passing through Waiouru at 6pm.
After the 650km road trip, she arrived in Wellington just after midnight and Auckland Zoo spokeswoman Bernie Vogels said one-year-old was ‘‘doing really well’’.
‘‘She spent a lot of time on her feet, but also sitting down and resting.’’
The 3.5-metre giraffe was put into her crate in Auckland around 7.30am before being craned onto a truck.
‘‘We took regular breaks to check on her and give her food, and she ate quite a lot which was really good.’’
The trip created a unique opportunity for many North Island residents, with Vogels saying ‘‘the real highlight was all the kids from all the little towns’’.
She was in good spirits throughout the journey, which had not been without its hiccups.
Zuri’s large flatbed truck, with its customised giraffe crate, had to make several attempts at rounding a tight corner on the way out of Auckland Zoo.
Then, as the convoy reached the Bombay Hills, there was a slight delay as the crate got stuck on a bolt sticking out from under a bridge, Auckland Zoo’s Nat Sullivan said.
As the journey progressed, Zuri was putting her head down more, possibly to stabilise herself, or to keep out of the wind.
There was a quick stop in Tokoroa so she could have a snack, before continuing on her journey south.
The truck travelled at normal speeds but took longer than a normal trip to allow for height or traffic-related detours, as well as frequent checks on Zuri.
Along with a zookeeper and vet, Sullivan drove down behind Zuri to keep an eye on her in her bespoke crate, which had room for her to move around, sit down and stand fully upright.
Zuri, Auckland Zoo’s young giraffe, leaves Auckland for Wellington Zoo on Monday.