This is my hand.

Giraffe eating

My hand – what this lovely giraffe named Charlie Bell used for a breakfast plate. It’s part of the new Giraffe Encounter at the Phoenix Zoo, where every morning from 9 – 10 a.m., you can feed a giraffe either a pellet (for adults), or a piece of lettuce (for the kiddos).

For three dollars (and kids under 2 are free), you step right up and one of the professionals shows you exactly what to do. Notice the assistance I received.

Waiting there right before it opened, the giraffes intuitively made their way over to the Encounter deck, which is just a few feet lower than where their heads reach. They all start to get hungry for the goodness we are about to feed them, and each person feeds them once. My nephew fed the lettuce, and was surprised by the big black tongue!

nephew feeding giraffe

I think it’s a great way to get the kids and adults (let’s not kid ourselves) to get up close to some of the most magnificent animals. The area where you feed them also has ostrichs and tons of other animals in the safari area all together.

While you’re at the zoo, which Travel + Leisure named one of the top five in the country, check out these not-so-native animals:

lionrhinosmonkeysorangutan

It’s a very cool experience – literally. There are splash “caves” and water play areas everywhere, a lot of the exhibits are shaded by huge tropical trees, and the best part – there are SnoCones galore for sale throughout the zoo.

Just do me this favor – when you go, say hello to my near and dear friend, Charlie Bell.

Charlie Bell

Phoenix Zoo

455 N. Galvin Pkwy

Phoenix, AZ 85008

www.phoenixzoo.org