April 19, 2021

Giraffe Caretaker Reflects On Mosi’s Years At Fossil Rim

“Mosi” the well-known male giraffe recently moved on to his next facility. During his nearly seven years at Fossil Rim, he sired calves with “Snorgie,” “Jan,” “Nettie,” and “Jurz.” Molly Shea, who is the primary person to take care of the giraffes, talked about her time with “Mosi.”

Mosi was the first (giraffe) bull I worked with in my career. He arrived at Fossil Rim on April 26, 2014 when I was just an intern. I remember being excited to have a relevant question to ask the day I interviewed for my job as an animal care specialist.

During his nearly seven years at Fossil Rim, “Mosi” sired calves with four female giraffes. As a very outgoing, inquisitive giraffe, he quite possibly became Fossil Rim’s best-known animal.

“How did the giraffe introduction go?!” He was a joy to work with since day one. Although it’s always hard to see them go, I’m excited for him to join a new herd and continue to spread his quality genetics. It’s why we do what we do. Animal care and health staff work hard to ensure quality lives for these animals to secure healthy backup populations and ambassador animals.

Mosi was a great ambassador animal at Fossil Rim. He quickly learned how to share his new 266-acre pasture with other giraffe, unfamiliar species, and cars. He learned very quickly to follow our herd matriarch, Nettie, around to find the good browse, water, and how to move in and out of the barn stress-free.

It didn’t take long for him to catch on that the cars driving through the Game Preserve would feed him. He even figured out the jackpot was to eat the whole bag of feed that could usually be found in the center console or on the driver’s lap. Why bother eating two pellets in a hand when you could bypass it for a whole bag? If you’ve fed a Fossil Rim giraffe in the last seven years, there’s a very good chance it was Mosi.

Molly Shea’s father, Thomas, painted this portrait of Mosi.

Bull hoofstock usually care about two things: food, we covered that, and reproducing. Mosi was a natural bull. He quickly sired multiple healthy calves here at Fossil Rim. Having large herds with diverse ages is a common sight around here.

The dams are in their most natural content state when raising calves and the other herd individuals serve their purpose as babysitters, teachers, and protectors. Having a healthy herd like this can’t be done without a successful bull.

Giraffe gestation is between 14 and 15 months. Although we have multiple adult females, there would still be down time while waiting for the “fun” part of his job to come back around. During those times Mosi would go through streaks of independence. How often can you say “I can’t find a giraffe?”

Well, I did. A lot. He would find a nice tree to browse on, way up a hill and completely concealed. There would be no way for me to safely drive up to him so I would just have to wait until he decided to “mosey” his way down the hill so I could bring him to his heated barn on a cold night. Patience, he taught me a lot of patience.

Mosi also taught me a lot about giraffe body language. With most animals, the smallest movements mean so much. Watching these behaviors is one of the many ways we keep ourselves safe and our animals healthy. It’s also how they communicate with each other.

Although not the tallest giraffe at 14.5-feet tall, Mosi could clear the giraffe barn in seconds with just a flick of his head, a lift of his leg, or a flare of his nostrils so he could get extra feed or get out of the rain on a wet day.

Mosi was a pleasure to work with over the last seven years. I’m sure he’ll be just as successful and amusing at his next facility. I look forward to continuing to work with the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP) and continuing to grow our herd here at Fossil Rim with a future bull.

-Molly Shea, Senior Animal Care Specialist – Hoofstock  


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    • To a private facility, which has the choice of if it is publicized. The animal staff knows, but not everything is shared with my (marketing) department.

  • I’m sure that on one of my visits last year my family fed Mosi. It was pure joy being able to be so close and have this beautiful creature eat from the palm of our hands. We are sorry that he’s leaving; however we must not be selfish. It is time to share him with others.

    • He will be remembered by many. He was a very successful breeder while he was here, definitely a big addition to Fossil Rim.

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