Giraffe Encounter

Open Tuesdays through Sundays

Public feeding opportunities are available at the Giraffe Encounter: an elevated viewing platform overlooking the giraffe habitat, bringing guests to eye level with the Zoo’s tallest creatures. From late spring through early fall, 50 patrons per feeding can purchase a ticket from the Ambassador Booth at the main entrance of the Zoo, redeemable for a supervised opportunity to serve special giraffe food. Feeding opportunities are available subject to the giraffes’ appetites, the weather and special events, but is generally open Tuesday through Sunday, in May through September. Feeding times may vary. The only other giraffe-feeding opportunity for visitors is during Breakfast with the Giraffes, which is a private, special event organized through the Detroit Zoological Society’s development department.

  • FAQ

    1. When did giraffe feeding begin? Feeding began in July 2007. A limited number of guests are able to feed the giraffes on the Giraffe Encounter deck in the African Grasslands from late spring through early fall, weather permitting.

    2. How many people are allowed to feed? At this time, 50 people are allowed to feed per feeding session.

    3. Why can so few people feed the giraffes? Zookeepers and staff veterinarians carefully monitor all of the animals’ diets to ensure their health.

    4. How much is it to feed the giraffes? The experience is $5 per person and includes a zookeeper talk and photo opportunity, in addition to the giraffe food.

    5. How many pieces can I buy? Can I take a group up on the deck? Because this is a limited opportunity, guests may only purchase one ticket per person, which is redeemable for two food items, typically leaves. One ticket may be shared between two people, but no more than three people are permitted on the deck at a time (as long as the third person is a child).

    6. Can children feed? Absolutely!

    7. Can a stroller or wheelchair go up on the Giraffe Encounter deck? Yes. The deck is fully ADA compliant and stroller parking is also available on the deck.

    8. What if it rains? In cases of severe weather the feedings may be cancelled and refunds on giraffe food (only) will be issued, if applicable.

    9. Will this experience be available all year? The Giraffe Encounter deck will close when the weather gets cold and the giraffes go indoors.

    10. I am a member. Do I get a discount or special feeding time? This limited experience is available to all of our guests and members at the same price and times.

    11. Where do I buy the food? The Giraffe Encounter ticket booth is just inside the main admission gates to the north or right-hand side of the entrance. Any Zoo ambassador or staff member can direct you. The booth will open when the Zoo opens for the day. This is where you purchase a ticket. Once you report to the Giraffe Encounter for the scheduled feeding, your ticket will be redeemed for giraffe food.

    12. Can I find out before I come if the Giraffe Encounter deck is open and giraffes are feeding? Yes, visitors can call ahead to see if the Giraffe Encounter is open on a particular day; however, the giraffes are given the choice to approach the deck for a feeding and their participation is voluntary. The ramp is open daily for viewing when giraffes are outdoors; the deck is only open for ticket-holders during a scheduled feed.

    13. Do the giraffes bite? They sometimes lick but do not bite.

    14. Can I get germs or get sick? All animals have germs in their mouths. Giraffes have no special germs of concern. We ask that all guests use the hand sanitizer that is available at the Giraffe Encounter after feeding as a measure of good general hygiene.

    15. Can I take pictures? Absolutely, however, flash photography is not permitted. A Zoo Photo staff person will also be taking photos of your special encounter, and photos will be available to view and purchase on our website.

    16. Can I bring my own food to give the giraffes and save the money? Only the special giraffe food item issued by the staff members can be given to the giraffes.

    17. Can I make reservations or buy advance tickets? This limited feeding experience is on a first come-first served basis and purchased only on Zoo grounds.

    18. What if I have a large group? Can each member of the group participate if they buy the special food item? Absolutely, as long as the group does not exceed 50 people and all members are present.

    19. Is this the same as Breakfast with the Giraffes? The Breakfast with the Giraffes experience is different and offers a breakfast and a private giraffe feeding for up to six people for $500/group and normally occurs before the Zoo opens. Learn more.

    20. How many giraffes are there? There are four; male Jabari, female Kivuli, their male calf, Mpenzi, born September 30, 2014, and their female calf, Zawadi, born August 6, 2016.

    21. How old are the giraffes? How tall are they? How much do they eat (etc.)? Docents (volunteer educators) are very knowledgeable and will be on the Giraffe Encounter deck during feeding times to answer any specific animal questions you may have.

    22. Can I touch/pet the giraffes? These are not pets and we want to respect them. Giraffes do not enjoy being touched as much as they enjoy the feeding and it may startle them.