story, science, technology and creativity

My favourite 4am start: one year of Ellie the giraffe


Time is flying and I can’t believe school is already finished for 2018!

I’m still recovering from being on NSW-time for Russ the Bus, and all this getting up early each day reminded me of my favourite super-early start: it was in 2017, and it was 4am.

Giraffe Correspondent

I was Crinkling News‘ Giraffe Correspondent, in charge of waking up super-early to catch the arrival of Ellie the giraffe to Perth Zoo. It was the chance of a lifetime, so I gave the kids the choice to come too. They opted to join me, voluntarily waking up at 4am to be part of the excitement. Go kids!

Ellie was late to arrive, which meant we were a little late for school, but it was all worth it! Here’s the story I wrote for Crinkling: I hope you think of Ellie next time you’re planning a road trip 😉

EllieNullaborSignCrate.jpgTall order

By Cristy Burne

At 3.2 metres tall, Ellie’s short for a giraffe, but there’s no way she’d fit into an aeroplane.

That’s why she travelled by road from Australia Zoo in Queensland, to Perth Zoo in Western Australia, crossing four states and clocking up 4510 kilometres.

“It’s the longest-ever road trip for a giraffe in the world,” says Andrew Stubbs, operations supervisor for transport company Toll Group. “We left Brisbane Monday [September 18 2017] lunchtime and arrived in Perth Thursday [September 21 2017] morning.”

Every kilometre of Ellie’s trip was carefully planned over many months. The team arranged for power lines to be lifted, traffic to be held back, and even for the lights to stay green.

“The idea was to get her here as quickly as possible, and as safely as possible,” says Perth Zoo’s Danielle Henry.

Mobile homeDelivery.JPG

Incredibly, Ellie spent the entire journey standing in her crate.

“Giraffes don’t really sleep for long…they just have nanna naps,” Ms Henry says. “And they don’t generally lie down, because then they’re susceptible to lion attacks.”

Ellie didn’t even break for a toilet stop—keepers just cleaned her crate on the go.

“Australia Zoo spent around four months getting her used to the crate, and making that a really positive space for her,” says Ms Henry. “They fed her in it, they got her used to walking in and out of it.”

80,000 giraffes in the wild

Ellie’s just 16 months old [at time of arrival], but she’s already an important part of the Australasian Giraffe Breeding Program. Zoo staff hope she’ll eventually breed with Perth Zoo’s bull giraffe, Armani.

“All the zoos work together to try and save this species,” says Ms Henry. “There’s probably only about 80,000 of them left in the wild.”


This story originally appeared in Crinkling News. 

Thanks to Perth Zoo for the images.

Author: cristyburne


2 thoughts on “My favourite 4am start: one year of Ellie the giraffe

  1. This is gorgeous. Cristy – and educational, too! I learned me some stuff about giraffes I never knew. Such a shame about Crinkling.


What do you think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s