Giraffe eating hay taken at Colchester Zoo

Sylvia was relieved to see her keeper, Zoe, opening the gate to her enclosure. It had rained the past few days and that meant Sylvia and the other giraffes hadn’t been allowed outside of their enclosure and into the paddock.

Spending a few days inside didn’t bother Sylvia. She understood the dangers of going outside on the mud. Her long beautiful and graceful legs weren’t designed for slippy, soggy mud. Plus the dreadful stuff got trapped in her hooves and was impossible to get out.

With all the grace that was befitting such a sculptured creature, Sylvia strode outside, offering Zoe a polite nod as she passed. Zoe said something, but Sylvia had no idea what it was. “Funny humans,” she thought to herself.

Proud of her long slender neck Sylvia held her head up high, always wanting to look her best for the many human families that passed by her enclosure. Though she shared the paddock with five zebras, four rhinos, three ostriches and the zeedonk, Sylvia knew she and her fellow giraffes were the main attractions over the other stubby creatures. Plus there was no doubt in Sylvia’s mind she was the star attraction.

Keeping a sharp eye out for any muddy patches as she made her way to the top of the paddock, where her favourite feeding pole was situated. Sylvia knew the choicest branches were always placed up there. She thought it was rather sweet of the humans to go to such effort to make her and the other animals feel so at home.

“Hey Sylvie,” a gruff voice called.

Sylvia heard her name and knew right away who the voice belonged to. Rob the rhinoceros always called her Sylvie, though it annoyed her, he was such a sweet old thing it was hard for her to be angry with him.

“Pass us down a branch, there’s a love,” Rob asked.

Giraffe and rhinoceros at Colchester Zoo

With a flutter of her long dark eyelashes, which made Rob chuckle, Sylvia dropped a branch at his feet. She had to admit she found the old rhino rather appealing and very sweet. Plus she couldn’t imagine what life must be like to be such a stubby and rather dull looking creature.

It was nearly time for the children to gather and have a go at feeding Sylvia and the other giraffes. It was important to Sylvia to save her appetite, on warm days like this there were always large numbers of children and even some adults holding out leaves for the giraffes to munch on and she didn’t want anyone to go away disappointed.

As she strode back down the paddock she noticed a puddle had formed near the zebra mound. She referred to the hump in the middle of the paddock as that because the Zebras were always hanging around it.

Though the keepers provided fresh water everyday, nothing could beat fresh rainwater. So, having a quick glance around to make sure not too many people were watching, Sylvia started the rather unflattering process of bending down. While her neck was beautiful, long and graceful, it wasn’t quite long enough to reach the ground. None of the giraffes’ necks were. Sylvia could never understand why this should be, what harm would an extra couple of inches make?

Sighing to herself, she gradually spread her front legs, moving them out bit by bit until she had lowered her front end enough for her tongue to reach the tempting puddle. Once there she drank her fill, trying to ignore the delighted squeal a human made from behind her and maintain her dignity.

A giraffe at Colchester Zoo bending to drink water

Carefully reversing the bending down process, Sylvia got back to her upright position and turned to look at the humans, letting them know she wasn’t bothered by their terrible manners. She didn’t mind really, the humans were such inquisitive little creatures and they were so frightfully easy to entertain. As was being demonstrated by the excitable children that were gathering at the giraffe feeding point, where Zoe and her friend Rachel were handing out branches.

Sylvia started to head over, knowing that the other giraffes would follow her lead. It was important to take their time, the humans always enjoyed themselves much more if they were kept waiting.

The feeding area took advantage of the giraffes’ long slender necks, so they could keep their distance from the humans and maintain control over the whole proceedings. As usual the children were jostling against each other and some were even trying to have a second go before other children had had their turn. This annoyed Sylvia and she tried to keep track of which children were being pushy, as if was often the more timid humans who appreciated their go at feeding a giraffe more.

A giraffe at Colchester Zoo eating leaves fed by a visitorWith this thought in mind one particular little boy caught her eye. He was a little golden skinned boy, standing at the back of the crowd looking terribly lost, holding his leaves out at arms length and in the wrong direction. If Sylvia wasn’t such a kind hearted giraffe she would probably have laughed. Instead she stretched her neck as far as it would go in the boy’s direction and then reaching out with her long purple tongue she managed to grab the leaves the boy was holding, taking him completely by surprise.

At first the boy looked like he was going to cry, such a dreadful human child habit, and Sylvia was ready to get away from the child, but slowly his face split into a smile. He turned toward Sylvia offering her his clump of leaves, which she gladly took.

By way of thank you she turned her head and looked into the little boys large brown eyes with her own and fluttered her beautiful long eye lashes at him. The little boy squealed with delight and suddenly disappeared.

As Sylvia straightened up and saw the boy with his parents pointing over to her and no doubt telling them all about her and how beautiful she was. Smiling all the way to her heart Sylvia turned her attention back to the other children, knowing she had done something truly wonderful that day.