New idea gives Paignton Zoo giraffes a spot of light lunch
Keepers at a Westcountry zoo have come up with an unusual solution to the lack of suitable high-rise dining for its loftier animals.
Staff at Paignton Zoo are to deploy recycled street lights as feeding posts for the giraffe herd. The old metal columns were chosen as they are "nibble-proof" and have been donated by contractor May Gurney's specialist street lighting business, Cartledge.
Adi Board, the zoo's head of maintenance and construction, came up with the idea after hearing of the recycling scheme and calculating that the height was "ideal" for the giant creatures.
Richard Sapsford, Cartledge's street lighting manager in Torbay, said the request was "one of the strangest" he had ever received for an old street light.
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"Ordinarily, old columns are cut up and sent for recycling when they reach the end of their design life," he said. "But when Adi contacted us and explained what he was after, it seemed the ideal solution."
The eight poles – all between five and eight metres tall and weighing between 50 and 80 kg – were due to be replaced because of their age.
Senior head keeper of mammals Matthew Webb said: "We have used wooden poles before, but they rot – and they get nibbled by the animals.
"We will place poles of different heights at different points around the paddock."
Giraffes' primary food source in the wild is acacia leaves, which they can happily munch high above the reach of other herbivores.
The Paignton herd has recently seen a new addition – Tino – who was born in February and is already around 11ft tall (3m).