Zoo looking for new giraffe

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Hillcrest Park Zoo staff is working towards buying a male giraffe as a mate for Jael.

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

Jael the Giraffe may not know it, but zoo adminstrators do: Her biological clock is ticking and, at 7 years old, she’s in prime shape to have offspring.

Thanks to a big contribution from a local bank, the Hillcrest Park Zoo in Clovis is in much better position to find Jael (pronounced “Jay-Elle”) a mate and eventually have a baby giraffe at the zoo.

Citizens Bank of Clovis recently pledged $15,000 to the zoo so a male giraffe can be purchased and brought to town. Jael has lived at Hillcrest since she was purchased as a 1-year-old and transported to the local zoo from Carlsbad.

“We’re in the preliminary stages, but it really looks like it’s going to happen,” said Herschel Arnold, director of the Hillcrest Park Zoo, on finding Jael a mate. “We’re trying to find a boyfriend for her; that’s the whole idea.

“Money was the holdup, just getting the funds. Now it’s just a matter of locating one,” added Arnold, who thought the pledge from Citizens Bank was the single largest donation in his 25 years with the zoo. “In my history, that’s the biggest I can remember.”

Arnold estimates the total cost of locating a male giraffe for the Clovis zoo could be as much as $25,000, but the bank’s contribution should enable the process to begin.

When Jael arrived in Clovis, she stood 10-feet tall and is now at 14-feet. Arnold said the cost to feed the giraffe is around $10 a day, making her one of the more expensive animals to maintain at the zoo.

Gary Young, vice-president at Citizens, said the bank had already committed to sponsoring one of the exhibits as part of a new program to generate money for Hillcrest Park Zoo.

After asking what would be on a wish list for the zoo, Young and his colleagues were informed an additional giraffe would be at the top.

“We believe strongly in giving back to our great community and supporting our wonderful zoo. It’s just one example of our commitment,” Young said.

Young also believes the, er, residual effects of the purchase of another giraffe will also be beneficial long-term.

“If we can get a little one, that’ll attract more people to the zoo,” he said.