5 July 2021

National Zoo mourns the loss of Hummer the giraffe

| Dominic Giannini
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Wildlife keeper Katie Ness feeding Hummer the giraffe

National Zoo senior wildlife keeper Katie Ness feeds Hummer the giraffe Hummer on his 19th birthday. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Hummer, the giraffe, died at the National Zoo & Aquarium over the weekend, a month out from his 20th birthday.

Hummer arrived in Canberra from Monarto Zoo – south-west of Adelaide – in 2004, and his personality quickly made an impact on zookeepers.

“The same way pets or people have very different personalities, these guys are like that,” Katie Ness, who had been looking after Hummer for the past nine years, said at his 19th birthday last year.

“Hummer is quite strong-headed and can have a bit of an attitude with people when he wants to.”

He was also quite big for a giraffe, standing about 5.5 metres tall, just shy of a giraffe in Queensland who made the Guinness Book of World Records at a height of 5.7 metres.

Hummer the giraffe

Hummer, the giraffe, enjoys his birthday ‘cake’ at the National Zoo last August. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

The zoo said Hummer did not suffer before he died as he approached his life expectancy. Giraffes in captivity live between 20 and 25 years.

“We take heart in the fact that he lived a long, happy life while receiving the best possible care and love from all of our dedicated staff, members and visitors,” the zoo said in a statement.

“Hummer was a fantastic ambassador for his species, educating and inspiring the public of the plight of wild giraffe and the challenges they face.

“He was adored by his keepers, guides and all zoo staff, as well as by hundreds of thousands of visitors and members.”

Two giraffes

Hummer the giraffe (right) and the younger Skye (left) last year. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Hummer, whose full name was Humbekhali, quickly became known by his new moniker after the zoo’s backup vehicle which accompanied his transit to the National Zoo from South Australia almost two decades ago.

The zoo is now working on getting a companion for the giraffe Skye “as soon as possible”, it said.

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Capital Retro8:27 am 06 Jul 21

His grave will be the longest in the pet cemetery.

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