Wednesday, 7 November 2012

An Update: Oleanders and giraffes no longer mix

Back in April I posted a discussion of a news article forwarded to me, regarding the unfortunate death of a giraffe at Reid Park Zoo, in Tucson. To recap, in an unfortunate series of events, a giraffe affectionately called Watoto, was inadvertently fed clippings from the highly toxic ornamental plant Oleander (Nerium Oleander), and died. A second giraffe, by the name of Denver, also ate the oleander trimmings, but luckily survived.

With a bit of luck, I was able to visit the Reid Park Zoo recently with my partner and his aunt, who is a volunteer at the zoo. I was able to pick her brain regarding the unfortunate death of Watoto, which she recalls with some sadness. She was, however, happy to indicate that the zoo is free from oleander, and that feeding time for the animals is controlled to ensure that such an event does not occur again.

Happy, healthy giraffes.
I must say, Reid Park Zoo is an amazing zoo for its size. The staff and volunteers at the zoo were very knowledgeable  the enclosures and habitats for the animals appear more than suitable to my untrained eye, and more importantly, a quick walk through the zoo would appear to confirm that no more oleander is present on the grounds of the zoo.

The rest of Tucson, not so much. Though I have encountered oleander whilst living in Sydney, and it is indeed a popular ornamental plant, I was surprised to see quite so many oleander plants. Then again, when you have saguaro cactus, barrel cactus, "jumping cholla" and "devil's claw" to worry about, I may glibly suggest they have other nefarious flora to be concerned with.

Until next time,
Nathan

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