Zookeepers remind visitors the dangers of wild animals

Hodari is a 10-year-old male giraffe living at the NEW Zoo in Suamico.

MADISON/SUAMICO - A woman's love of giraffes landed her in hot water.

Police say the 24-year old woman climbed a fence at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison to get into the giraffe enclosure.

Amanda Hall, who is from California, told police she wanted to be one with the giraffes.

However, when she was in the enclosure, one of the animals ended up kicking Hall in the face.

She suffered minor injuries.

Police cited the woman for harassment of zoo animals, which carries a $686 fine.

FOX 11 visited the NEW Zoo in Suamico to find out how the animals are cared for.

Zookeepers, who take care of the two giraffes named Hodari and Zuri, say they can be gentle and friendly.

“But they’re huge animals and just a mistaken twitch could kill you,” said Carmen Murach, NEW Zoo's animal curator.

That’s one of the reasons why the zookeepers don’t go inside the giraffe pen.

“Once they’re in here, there’s a scale built into it and we can weigh them every day. It’s got little doors that open here and there and the keepers get in here,” Murach said.

Handlers use specialized equipment when caring for the animals.

“They have really good leg muscles and their only defense in the wild is really kicking,” Murach said.

According to giraffes are strong enough to kill a lion with one kick, they can run as fast as 35 miles an hour, and a giraffe’s feet are the size of a dinner plate.

The NEW Zoo offers a feeding platform. It's about 10 feet off the ground and visitors can get up close personal with the giraffes.

Murach says barriers are in place so people don’t get inside the pen.

“It’s a large yard that’s not easily accessible to visitors. Unless zoos keep all of the animals behind cement walls and barbed wire, there’s always a possibility of someone breaking the rules and climbing over,” Murach said.

Murach says giraffes, like most animals at the zoo, are from the wild and if they’re not treated with respect, they will react.

As for the woman who was kicked in the face by a giraffe at the zoo in Madison, the police department said Hall had been drinking before the incident.