For as long as I can remember I have loved giraffes. I had no idea you could feed them, especially in Norfolk. When I mentioned it to MrS last year he told me that Banham Zoo offered this to visitors. The last time I'd been to Banham Zoo they didn't even HAVE giraffes, so originally I thought he was confusing it with their sister zoo, Africa Alive near Lowestoft.
It was fantastic. You just hold the fruit and veg between your fingers and as you hold it to their tongue they curl it round the food and take it back into their mouths. They only have teeth on the lower jaw so are unlikely to bite as their tongue is usually covering the teeth! Their tongues are black as a protection against the sun - in the wild they can feed for up to 19 hours a day - that's a lot of tongue exposure!
I was thrilled to be able to do this and we were the first of the day so they were hungry and impatient! We weren't allowed to stroke them. Apparently they aren't used to being touched even by vets and if you startle them and they rear back they can give you a fair old bang on the head! They are such odd but beautiful looking creatures
MrS and No2 had a go too (so did No2's GF but I only got the back of her head in the photos!)
I was really impressed with the zoo, it's a very long time since I last visited (probably about 10 years). They have an amazing new Lemur enclosure that allows the lemurs to come out to you. They were hilarious, and clearly know to pose for the cameras.
Then in the afternoon we went to the Bird of Prey Display...
Whilst the zoo is pricey to get in (£19:95 per adult, but London Zoo is £25) the giraffe feeding is only £7.50 per head on top of that, which I think for a special treat is pretty good. (Zoos in general are REALLY pricey - if you can get a spree voucher or a local paper voucher it makes a lot of difference). And well worth it for me. The keeper did say that in the summer sometimes they're fed so much that by the end of the day they lose interest, so if you're considering doing this I reccommend doing it early in the day (we did 11:30).
It really was a lovely day out and you can spend 7 hours there easily, especially if you time your day around animal feeds and shows.