HUMAN INTEREST STORIES

AROUND THE STATE: WORLD GIRAFFE DAY AT ZOOSIANA

by Jeanni Ritchie

While researching Louisiana zoos earlier this summer, I discovered Zoosiana in Broussard, about fifteen miles south of Lafayette. 

I put it on my unscheduled bucket list until I heard about their World Giraffe Day celebration on June 21st and immediately made room on my schedule. 

Giraffes are my favorite animal in the entire world!

I love that they stand so tall and regal and can see things from such a grand perspective. They are elegant and docile, their beauty is unrivaled. I love all things giraffe. 

Gabe, Josie, Millie, and George wandered in and out of their Giraffe Barn which opened in March of 2022. I got to feed sisters Josie and Millie some lettuce leafs; like typical siblings they weren’t big fans of sharing! 

Josie and Millie were both born at the facility. Giraffe babies are usually 72 inches in length and weigh between 100 and 220 lbs. at birth! All four of Zoosiana’s giraffes are reticulated giraffes, which refers to the type of spots they have. There are six subspecies of giraffes and reticulated ones have recently been classified as endangered.

Zoosiana General Manager Parrish Broussard shared, “We love our giraffes and celebrating World Giraffe Day.”

Visitors from all over participated in a variety of giraffe-themed events including giraffe hand-feeding, giraffe crafts, giraffe education, and a giraffle to win a piece of art created by one of the zoo’s own giraffes!

Twelve-year old Lauryn Williams from Luling, clad in Dr. Seuss attire as Thing 2, had no idea where she was going when they left home. She’d helped construct her family’s own summer bucket list that included Zoosiana but that day’s destination had been a surprise. She was excited as they pulled into the parking lot because she’d had no idea during the two-hour drive where they were going. 

While I’d also driven a couple of hours to celebrate the giraffes, the Griffin family drove over three hours from La Porte, Texas. Sisters Mila, 5, and Khloe, 3, had just seen the giraffes and were excitedly headed to the train just as I reached the Giraffe Barn. 

I followed their route and headed to the train myself after feeding the giraffes. Five-year old Emma Spong of Lake Charles and I talked about the heat while waiting for the train. It was 97 degrees outside and we were hoping the train ride would cool us down. 

While we were waiting for the train, Emma’s brother Taven Scott, 11, showed me the peacock feathers he’d found stuck in a fence. “I only collect the big ones,” he shared. “This was the biggest I’ve ever gotten.” 

Emma explained that they had chickens and often picked up feathers outside. We also talked about her upcoming first grade year, trains, giraffes, peacocks, monkeys, zoos, and how much we were sweating in the sweltering heat. Having full-on conversations about life with kids is what I miss most from my teaching days!

I like talking to animals too, though I usually surreptitiously look around to make sure no one else is within earshot. I later spent time with the jealous donkey, inquired what the conflict was when feathers went flying in the aviary, and asked a capuchin monkey if he knew Friends’ Marcel. I sang Gypsy’s “Little Lamb” to the sweetest lamb in the petting zoo who baa’d every time I stopped singing!

I donned my best Johnny Cash voice as I heard the train a’ comin’ and we finally got to board. The route took us past the Jungle Room and the Cat Cabana until we hit an open savanna where Eloise, 3, pointed out the many free-range animals.

 Zoosiana did not build habitats into concrete commercial property but rather a zoo into unspoiled acreage. For thirty years they’ve maintained a beautiful, loving home for over 1,000 animals. We passed goats, baby deer, camels, birds, gibbons, and antelope on the ride. 

After seeing one of the latter with only one horn, a train passenger lamented, “Oh that’s sad. It only has one horn.”

But Eloise was excited and started clapping. It seems her parents had been mistaken when they’d told her Zoosiana didn’t have her favorite animal. 

“A unicorn!” she yelled. 

Yes, Eloise, there really are unicorns! 

Zoosiana is open year-round from 9 AM- 5 PM, seven days a week (excluding major holidays). It is located at 5601 Hwy 90 E, Broussard, LA 70518. Call (337) 837-4325 or visit https://zoosiana.com/ for more information. 

Jeanni Ritchie is a lifelong zoo lover who believes that EVERY month should be #nationalzooandaquariummonth. She can be reached at jeanniritchie54@gmail.com

 

 

JUL24 DG PARAGON VOD BAN
JUL24 DG PARAGON BIN BAN
JUL24 MB CLINICALS BANNER
Generac Banner Ad for Affiliate Link
Cunningham Copiers
DENTAL PHYSICANS MEDIABIDS OCT23 BANNER
318Central.com Banner Ad
JUL24 DG PARAGON LUG BAN
Bayou Mosquito Licensed to Kill Banner 12.14.20
JAN24 DURACELL BANNER
SOUTHERN HERITAGE NEW 10323 BANNER