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Giraffes to join the army

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Photo: Tiergarten Schönbrunn/Norbert Potensky
00:22 CEST+02:00
Recent cuts announced by the armed forces minister haven't led to conscription of zoo animals -- rather, the army has offered a home to the giraffes of Schönbrunn zoo while their enclosure is being renovated.

The zoo revealed on Monday a plan under which four giraffes will be temporarily housed at the site of the Maria Theresa barracks for the next two years, while the Schönbrunn Giraffe House is renewed.

Dating from 1828, the original enclosure hasn't been updated for almost 190 years, and is the last one of a serious of renovations to be carried out during the past few years.

Defense Minister Gerald Klug (SPÖ) said "The Army is ready for battle", offering a large meadow as a grazing and exercise area for the giant quadrupeds.

The giraffes will continue to be looked after by their regular keepers, as the meadow is close to the zoo's location.  

"We are very grateful that there is an alternate enclosure near us. The advantages are that the transport would be very short and the giraffes could continue to be looked after by our keepers", zoo director Dagmar Schratter said in a press release.

"If we have ways to help, then the Austrian Army has always been standing at the ready to provide active contributions within the framework of our forces," said Klug. 

A site inspection of the barracks took place on Wednesday, confirmed commandant Franz Baumgartner to daily newspaper Der Standard.
 
According to reports, the army will receive €9,900 per year as rent - although this is unlikely to help significantly with its budget issues.
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