2 giraffes for Emperor Zoo
Tuesday, December 3 2013
If all goes well, two male giraffes will join the animals of the Emperor Valley Zoo, Port-of-Spain as they are due to arrive in Trinidad by the week’s end.
The giraffes are currently en route from Texas over land to Miami and should arrive in the Florida city tonight. It is expected the animals would be placed on a flight tomorrow morning, president of the Zoological Society Gupte Lutchmedial said yesterday. He said the confirmed arrival of the giraffes would be known later today.
Zoo officials are hopeful that everything goes as planned and soon, visitors to the zoo would be able to gaze upon the two male Somali subspecies of giraffe. They noted a previous attempt to import a giraffe, nicknamed Melman, back in June fell through because of a missed flight. Melman had grown to large to transport by the time other arrangements were made.
In light of this, zoo officials expressed concern that staff at the Tourism Ministry may have “jumped the gun” by announcing the arrival of the two male giraffes before they have even boarded a plane to this country.
The officials were responding to a press release issued by the ministry yesterday afternoon, in which it declared that “for the first time in our nation’s history, and for the first time in this part of the world, the Emperor Valley Zoo will have African giraffes.”
The statement went on to say the giraffes are expected to make their appearance at the zoo by 9.30 am tomorrow and that they are of the reticulated or Somali subspecies of giraffe.
Noting that Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma and the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Juliana Johan-Boodram, would both be in attendance, the press release ended with an invitation for the media to cover the giraffes’ arrival.
However, zoo officials shared their concern about the premature statement.
One official said, “It is international zoo protocol to wait until an animal has arrived safely at its new home, and been certified as alive and healthy by a veterinarian, before one issues a press release.”
While another official pointed out that in light of recent failed attempts to import giraffes, the ministry should have heeded the zoo’s advice not to issue an official statement until the giraffes at least land at Piarco International Airport.
“Back in June, everything was in place to bring in a giraffe nicknamed ‘Melman’ but when his travel plans within the United States were changed, he ended up missing his flight to Trinidad. By the time a new flight was available,” the official added, “Melman had grown three inches and was 40 pounds heavier than when he had left his home at a zoo in Texas. He was simply too big to fly. That’s why we advised the ministry not to say anything until these two new giraffes are actually en route to Emperor Valley Zoo.”
Questioned about the apparent communications mix-up yesterday, Sharma said he was unaware a press release had been issued but was sure it was “a case of human error.”