Tajiri, the world’s most popular giraffe calf, turned 50-days-old on Sunday.
Born on April 15, baby Taj is a proverbial Aries infant. He is curious, incredibly active, and has a natural tendency to win over people. Tajiri’s independent and curious nature is very much like his father, Oliver.
“This young male calf, future bull, is entertaining and captivating guests daily,” said Jordan Patch, the good-natured owner of Animal Adventure Park.
“Tajiri’s inquisitive nature is a nod to his father Oliver. He stands by April’s side as she welcomes guests, but often wanders (and runs) off to explore on his own. Lucky guests may get a curious sniff or lick by Taj, but he tends to stay off the fence line closest to guests,” Jordan said.
Baby Tajiri is growing bigger by the day, but he hasn’t started eating anything yet. He has been feeding on mother’s milk and may nibble hay or grain but not consume it.
Carrie Ann Grippo-Pike, an animal photographer who has made it her life’s mission to document the story of the three giraffes, has a lot to say about the long-necked trio. Although Carrie had visited many zoos and photographed several giraffes, she says the trio at Animal Adventure Park holds a special place in her heart.
“This giraffe family is special for many reasons…their human-like family bond with each other, the way April and Oliver interacted before the baby came, the way April cared for Tajiri the minute he was born — by cleaning him, being careful not to step on him, helping him stand, nuzzling him while he nursed, checking on him when he was sleeping. There is definitely an emotional attachment to them that we all feel,” she said.
Reminiscing about her day at the park, Carrie said baby Taj stuck close to mommy’s side, just standing there soaking it all in. Then he ventured away, walking slowly through the dirt. Later that morning, after nursing, he came alive and started to run and leap, kick, and skid all over his enclosure!
“He was so happy and full of energy, and quite adventurous. The huge crowd of fans and onlookers cheered him on through all his antics and poses. He was unfazed by all the attention, but observed everything with interest, and I honestly think he knew he was adorable! Finally it was time to switch out April and Taj, so Oliver could have some outdoor time and carrots from the visitors. I went into the giraffe barn and there was little Taj laying down in the hay after a big day of fresh air. It was so sweet to see him lying there. There was such a bond between April and Taj. She was very protective of him and doted on him, but I could clearly see Tajiri got some physical traits and personality from his dad Oliver, who, after exiting the giraffe barn, ran and leaped all over the dirt enclosure — just like Taj did all morning!” said Carrie.
Millions of people across the world became a part of the giraffe family when they connected with the pregnant April and daddy Oliver via the giraffe cam. What made the April hysteria even more phenomenal was the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Animal Adventure Park.
People who visited the park said that the AAP staff are charismatic in person as they were on camera. They posed for photographs with the starstruck visitors. They answered questions about giraffes and other animals.
“There was such positive energy in general throughout the park. They have so many awesome animals to view and interact with besides the giraffes, and I loved how there were information stations about each animal as well as which treat you could hand-feed them (carrots, pellets, lettuce, bottles of milk, etc). They had a few places to grab food or a drink for hungry guests, and an awesome gift shop filled with toys and stuffed animals representing all the animals they have! Of course, the 6 feet tall giraffe stuffed toys were a big hit in the gift shop!” said Carrie.
Overall, it was an experience of a lifetime — one that will make you come back for more.
For more Tajiri photos, visit Carrie’s picture gallery here.
[Featured Image by Carrie Ann Grippo-Pike]