Giraffe shipped to Timaru because she's too tall for Christchurch tunnel
This is a tall tale that turned out to be true.
Shira the giraffe's new home is in Christchurch, but she's being sent to Timaru because she's too tall to fit through Lyttelton tunnel.
She will arrive at Timaru's port on Friday afternoon.
Auckland Zoo's 2-year-old giraffe Shira is in the middle of a three-day sea voyage south to Timaru on the Shansi, bound for a new home at Christchurch's Orana Wildlife Park.
The zoos chose Timaru as the port of arrival because the young female giraffe's height meant she would not have fit through the Lyttelton tunnel.
PrimePort Timaru chief executive Phil Melhopt said it would be an exciting day, with the ship set to arrive about 2pm.
"It's not everyday Timaru, or any port for that matter, gets a consignment like this."
Shira, a young female, is being relocated to progress Australasian zoos' regional giraffe breeding programme. A second Auckland Zoo female, Mdomo, will follow in early 2016.
Shira's journey, in a 4.2m purpose-built crate, began at 9am on Wednesday with a trip through suburban Auckland to the Port of Auckland to board the Shansi - a 25,000 tonne Quadrant Pacific Line container ship.
Accompanying the giraffe during the 1360km sailing, followed by a road trip on State Highway 1 to her new home, are the zoo's vet manager Dr James Chatterton, Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan, and keeper Larry Lee.
On-board giraffe luggage includes medical supplies, enrichment items, and some of Shira's favourite foods like Lucerne, pellets, Puka browse and carrots.
Orana Wildlife Park head keeper of exotic animals Rob Clifford said he and his team were excited to be welcoming Shira and then Mdomo.
"These two transfers, as part of the managed zoo-based breeding programme, demonstrate how zoos work collaboratively together for species management," Clifford said.
"Once settled in, Shira will be integrated with our current herd of three females. In time, we hope to source a suitable male with the aim of once again breeding these wonderful gentle giants."
FROM THE GIRAFFE FILES: "Our boy" Seun the Christchurch giraffe starts journey to Wellington over Evans Pass Rd