February 21, 2020

To Dobby, With Love

A Giraffe Keeper Reflects on the Extraordinary Life of One of Denver Zoo’s Most Famous Residents

By Amanda Faliano, Giraffe Keeper 

 

My Dear, Sweet Dobby, 

I cannot believe it’s been three years since your surprise birth. You were so tiny, measuring only 73 pounds and 5 feet tall, much smaller than the typical male giraffe calf. Karen would always say you’re “small but mighty,which is why we named you Dobby. Dobby ended up being an appropriate name, as your small size came with a few complications, including needing a plasma infusion, and daily injections and weight checks. But you were mighty, and after just a few short weeks, you were a healthy calf who didn’t need daily checkups.  

Dobby gets a check up from our veterinarian.
Dobby gets a check up from our veterinarian.

Today you're over 12 feet tall and almost 1,500 pounds! You lost two baby teeth a few months ago, and already your adult ones have grown in. As your frame grew, your spots that we love so much stayed the same, like the heart on the top of your shoulder, the split spot on the top of your hips and your tiny little spot on your neck. Your wrinkles are my favorite, even when you were tiny you had wrinkles along your belly like your mom and one across you hip!  

Dobby (R), with dad, Dikembe in 2018.
Dobby (R), with dad, Dikembe in 2018.

You’ve had a lot of adventures for a three-year-old. From the daily feedings with your adoring fans, to famous visitors, like local athletes, musicians and rodeo queens. You seemed to especially like their sparkly hats and shirtseven reaching through during the picture and trying to grab them! And you were thrilled when the Colorado Symphony came to play a few songsyour reaction was a delight for everyone! 

Starting your very own training program is serious business, but also a ton of fun. You already learned how to present your hooves for hoof trims and even had two visits from the farrier who you really like.  One of the hardest parts about training you is you never want to stop! When the treats are running low and time is winding down, you prefer to lick our clothes and attempt to steal our keys instead of leaving the training area. But you know we can’t be mad at you! 

Dobby's first visit with the farrier.
Dobby's first visit with the farrier.

You have such a great personality just like your mom, Kipele, and dadthe late, great Dikembe. You love interacting with us and learning new things (even if some of those new things are naughty like trying to take our keys or tools off our belts). You definitely take after your dad, standing right in the middle of freshly-swept piles instead of leaving the stall to let your keepers clean up. As you get taller, you’re starting to rub your head on the feeding cart as a way to say hello! You also love to try and take some of Kipele’s grain, knowing that even if you don’t get her food, we’ll still give you treats to distract you. Yeah, we’re on to you! 

Dobby, walking in and seeing you is the best part of my day, and I can’t believe it’s been three years since that first meeting. You get a little bigger every day, but I hope you never lose that playfuland sometimes naughtyspirit. We’ve made so many good memories, and I can’t wait to make even more. Happy Birthday, Dobbers. 

Love, 

Amanda 

Amanda and Dobby

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