A REAL GIRAFFE CALLED MELMAN
Melman was a giraffe at Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre, nr. Hoedspruit in South Africa.
She had been rescued, rehabilitated and successfully released back into the wild, outside the rehab compound. She still required a bottle of milk each day, but otherwise lived outside of our compound, roaming with the other wild animals including hippo and zebra.
As part of the daily routine of feeding all the animals, there was a late afternoon ‘run’ to feed those animals whose enclosures formed the perimeter of the compound, including rhino and cheetah.
Melman, named after the loopy, hypochondriacal giraffe in the movie Madagascar, took this opportunity to follow the ute loaded with food for the others to make sure she got her feed too.
I have never seen a giraffe run, but Mellie wasn’t about to miss out on her feed and regularly chased after our ute when she spotted it exiting the compound and going around to the other enclosures. She would run after our ute, legs going every which way, much to the delight of the volunteers.
Feeding A Giraffe Called Melman
We all took it in turns to feed her from her bottle. Feeding a giraffe was not something I had on my CV, but I was delighted to have a go and add it to my list of non-medical and somewhat ‘unusual’ certificates.
Melman regularly got a 2 litre bottle of special milk formula, followed by a bottle of water, and then some specially made up ‘greenery’ for added roughage as her dessert.
Well, feeding a giraffe was not as easy as I thought it may be. For one, she was not a small giraffe at all. Whilst not fully grown, she was still pretty tall and quite forceful, or should I say, enthusiastic?
Feeding Melman meant we had to stand on the tray top and bolster ourselves against one side so we could stand firm whilst she sucked on the bottle. Sucking wasn’t exactly how I would describe it. She was stronger than a Dyson vacuum cleaner!
She adored her milk and as her suction power was extremely strong, the technique was to not only hold the bottle but also to secure the rubber teat on the end so she didn’t accidentally suck that in and swallow it.
That meant holding it tight while she pushed against your hand with her lips and huge teeth, meanwhile drooling all the way down your upheld arms. Aaargh! And giraffes drool, big time. Not nice. Well I did it once, but never again. Got the certificate, thank you very much, but that one is ticked off the bucket list, for sure!
[Photos and videos by Tony and Irene Isaacson]