Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"

Get personal at the Denver Zoo's new Giraffe Encounter.EXPAND
Get personal at the Denver Zoo's new Giraffe Encounter.
Melanie Asmar

Giraffes love lettuce.

In fact, they love it enough to come right up to you, deploy their long black tongues and snatch a leaf out of your hand. 

Giraffe Encounter is the Denver Zoo's latest feature, and it officially opened its doors on Monday. For $5, visitors can buy three leaves of lettuce to feed to one or more of the zoo's four giraffes: male Dikembe and females Heshimu, Masika and Kipele. There are two locations from which to feed them: an elevated deck that puts visitors nose-to-nose with the zoo's tallest animals, or a ground-level platform that entices the giraffes to bend their long necks over the fence in order to reach the leafy snacks.

"We want you to connect with these beautiful animals so you care about their existence," zoo president Shannon Block said at a short opening ceremony — and media sneak peek — on Monday.

A TV cameraman feeds a giraffe as Denver city councilman Albus Brooks watches.EXPAND
A TV cameraman feeds a giraffe as Denver city councilman Albus Brooks watches.
Melanie Asmar

Upcoming Events

Giraffe Encounter will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Visitors can pay to feed the giraffes during three one-hour time periods: 10 to 11 a.m., 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Or, as Brittany Frederick, the zoo's guest engagement manager, says, "until their tummies get full." Zookeepers figure it will take about eleven heads of romaine lettuce per hour to do that. The giraffes will also have access to their regular food, including alfalfa — so whether they partake of the lettuce is totally up to them.

City councilman Albus Brooks attended Monday's event with his two young daughters, Kaya and Kenya. He called the zoo the "jewel of the city" and predicted that the new feature would be a hit. 

Giraffe Encounter is sponsored by six local Toyota dealerships. The zoo's flagship exhibit, the $50 million Toyota Elephant Passage, was also sponsored by the dealers. 

"For the first time in over 118 years, you can feed giraffes at the Denver Zoo," Block said.

"Let's get this party started!"

Continue to see more photos of cameramen (!) and children feeding giraffes, as well as a video.

Zoo president Shannon Block speaks to the media about Giraffe Encounter on Monday.EXPAND
Zoo president Shannon Block speaks to the media about Giraffe Encounter on Monday.
Melanie Asmar
Denver city councilman Albus Brooks's daughters hold out lettuce to feed the giraffes.EXPAND
Denver city councilman Albus Brooks's daughters hold out lettuce to feed the giraffes.
Melanie Asmar
Giraffe Dikembe takes the bait.EXPAND
Giraffe Dikembe takes the bait.
Melanie Asmar
Brooks holds up his younger daughter so she can feed a giraffe.EXPAND
Brooks holds up his younger daughter so she can feed a giraffe.
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Block shows how it's done.EXPAND
Block shows how it's done.
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
A group of kids feed the giraffes from the ground-level platform.EXPAND
A group of kids feed the giraffes from the ground-level platform.
Melanie Asmar
And then tell the media all about it.EXPAND
And then tell the media all about it.
Melanie Asmar
Cute kids + giraffes = television gold.EXPAND
Cute kids + giraffes = television gold.
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
A kid gets a boost from a camp counselor.EXPAND
A kid gets a boost from a camp counselor.
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
The view from the elevated deck.EXPAND
The view from the elevated deck.
Melanie Asmar
Giraffes are not shy when you've got lettuce.EXPAND
Giraffes are not shy when you've got lettuce.
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar
Photos: You Can Now Feed Giraffes at Denver Zoo's "Giraffe Encounter"EXPAND
Melanie Asmar

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