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Tiki the giraffe gets fitted for a jacket

February 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Like many a lady of a certain age, Tiki feels the cold these days. So workers at the Oakland Zoo are having a custom-fit coat made to keep the giraffe cozy this winter.

At age 18, venerable for giraffes, Tiki is subject to the vicissitudes of age. She already gets regular visits from a chiropractor, a masseuse and an acupuncturist.

Those are accepted treatments for horses, at least in the always edgy San Francisco Bay area, and provide a gentle way to treat animals without drugs, said zoo keeper Melissa McCartney. Massage helps get Tiki used to interacting with keepers. Acupuncture helps with her shoulder and withers.

However, coping with the effect of Bay Area winter chills on the African mammal had baffled keepers.

At 13 feet tall, Tiki is too big to be herded into a stall, and regular horse blankets are too ill-fitting to be left on without supervision lest she get in a tangle.

"Poor Tiki in her blanket looks like someone in her sister's hand-me-downs," said zoo spokeswoman Nancy Filippi.

The zoo staff got in touch with a horse-blanket designer who agreed to donate her services to tailor a coat for Tiki.

The jacket will be a tasteful forest green and feature a removable liner for those in-between days.

To get precise measurements for the tailoring, McCartney had to scramble up a ladder.

The result? A 40 extra, extra long.

 

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