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November 2012 - Giraffes at the Jacksonville Zoo

Jacksonville Zoo History 1914-2014
Featured November 2012
Alan F. Rost, Biological Programs Registrar and unofficial Zoo historian

Giraffes at the Jacksonville Zoo


The giraffe has been part of the Jacksonville Zoo animal collection since at least December 1957, when a male “Long John,” arrived from an animal dealer in Hamburg, Germany. Long John had been wild born in East Africa. The first female giraffe “Lean Jean” arrived in April 1960 from the Fort Worth Zoo where she had been born in 1959.

The first giraffe birth we have on record happened in July 1968 when a female “Cindy Lou” was born to “Dick Swindle” and “Crooked Horns”. Both Dick Swindle and Crooked Horns had started as wild born giraffe imports from Kenya. To date the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has held 53 giraffes including 32 giraffe births. In 1973 Jacksonville even received two female giraffes from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, which were held on loan for several months.

Lean Jean, our first female, can actually be traced back to the 1930s. Her sire at the Fort Worth Zoo was born at the National Zoo in October 1948 to two imported giraffes that had arrived at the National Zoo in 1937. The then National Zoo director William Mann, had been on a trip to the Orient and stopped in Khartoum in 1937 on his way back to the States and picked-up five Nubian giraffes. That makes two of those Nubians “Bob” and “Kitty” the great/great/great grandparents of our current female “Spock” born here in September 2001. Actually, Spock’s lineage can be traced back to four giraffes that were her great/great/great/great grandparents – “Andy” & “Bonnie” at the Dallas Zoo and “Jack” & “Pamela” at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. The Jacksonville Zoo giraffes Dick Swindle and Lean Jean mentioned above are Spock’s great grandparents.

If you have any information, pictures or photos about the Jacksonville Zoo during this timeframe that you would like to share, (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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