After 2-year stay, giraffe Riley returns to Utah's Hogle Zoo

September 3, 2014 - 5:03pm

Oregon Zoo bids goodbye to 17-foot-tall giraffe known for his heart-shaped spot

The Oregon Zoo will soon bid goodbye to one of its tallest out-of-town guests ever: Riley, a 17-foot-tall reticulated giraffe, will be returning home to Utah's Hogle Zoo this month following a two-year stay in Portland.

The long-necked 10-year-old — easily identified by the distinctive heart-shaped marking on his left side — has been staying in Oregon during renovations at Hogle Zoo, which recently opened its new mixed-species African Savanna exhibit.

"We were glad we could help out another AZA-accredited zoo, and give Riley a good home away from home," said Laura Weiner, senior Africa keeper at the Oregon Zoo. "We've all grown fond of Riley during his stay. He's a spirited fellow, and he's been a great companion to our two younger male giraffes."

Keepers have spent weeks working with Riley to ensure he is as relaxed as possible throughout the transfer process. He will make the move to Utah in an extra-tall trailer equipped with a video camera so keepers can make sure he is safe during the trip. Until then, visitors can find him in the Oregon Zoo's Africa Savanna habitat, along with the 7-year-old Bakari and 4-year-old Desi.

Giraffes, the tallest mammals on earth, can grow up to 18 feet tall. Other impressive stats include: tongues up to 21 inches long, running speeds of up to 35 mph, and the ability to consume up to 75 pounds of leaves and brush each day.