Giraffes under increased security

Clovis' tallest toddler nibbled peacefully from tree branches Tuesday at Hillcrest Park Zoo, ignoring her mother and pricking her ears attentively to the sound of camera flashes.

Jerrica, now 8 weeks old, appeared calm and unaffected by a March 21 incident that sent her crashing in fear through a PVC pipe barrier.

The incident involved stones being thrown at Jerrica and has prompted tighter security of her and her mother, Jael.

"We have a camera aimed right at the giraffe," Zoo Director Vince Romero said. "We're looking into getting additional cameras."

Romero said no further incidents of rock throwing have occurred.

Romero, who feared the traumatic event would affect the bonding process between Jael and her estranged youngster, said the two are doing fine.

Efforts to reunite the two have been under way since Jerrica's birth, when her mother kicked her, prompting zoo officials to remove the infant to protective custody.

Assistant zoo director Mark Yannotti said the mother and baby giraffe are interacting over the fence of their adjoining pens, and Jerrica doesn't "run from her as much."

Romero said Jerrica has grown to over 7 feet tall and is still being bottle fed five gallons of milk replacer daily.

"She's spoiled," Yannotti said. "She won't even bend her neck down to drink her bottle, she expects us to chase her down with it."

Yannotti said her height is making it difficult to bottle feed her and zoo officials are considering switching her to bucket feeding.

Yannotti stated they have started feeding the young giraffe bananas, along with her daily grains, and noted that she is beginning to eat foliage from trees in her pen.

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