The Greenville Zoo will soon say goodbye to one giraffe, and hello to another one.
Walter, the zoo's male giraffe, is moving to a zoo in New Jersey as part of the Giraffe Species Survival Program. That means another male giraffe will soon be moving in.
Zoo officials say because Walter and Autumn, the zoo's female giraffe, have had two successful births (Kiko and Tatu), SSP has recommended that Walter be transferred to the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ to join the bachelor herd there. Walter is among 20 Masai giraffes from across North America being transferred as part of the program.
The zoo says Walter will be leaving in late March or early April.
In return, Miles, a 7-year-old giraffe from the Houston Zoo will now be heading to Greenville to breed with Autumn. The zoo says it will wait to bring in Miles until late summer or early fall to give Tatu time to grow before they introduce a new male to the mix. Tatu was just born in February.
Zoo officials say the SSP was created in the 1970s to manage captive breeding populations for certain species.
Zoo administrator Jeff Bullock says the breeding programs have been successful so far.
"Walter and Autumn came to us in 2007 and made their debut in our newly opened giraffe exhibit, so it's hard to imagine him not being here," said Bullock. "I know our staff and the community will miss him, but it's important to remember that this change will help ensure the survival of this magnificent species for future generations."