BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland Zoo’s male reticulated giraffe, Caesar, settled into his newly renovated habitat for the first time this week.

The 12-year-old is the first of the herd of four to venture out of the barn into the expanded yard, the Zoo said Wednesday.

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Renovations to the lion, giraffe and elephant habitats began in March 2018. While the Giraffe House remains the same, the exterior giraffe habitat increased by more than 30 percent and was regraded to make the ground flat throughout.

“The process of introducing animals to a new exhibit is dependent on the species. Some animals are tolerant of change and others are much more cautious entering unknown spaces,” said Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager. “Giraffe need a lot of time to evaluate their surroundings. Because construction is not finished, there is still a lot of activity around the new habitat so allowing Caesar to investigate and learn that there are no dangers has been important as he will be leading the rest of the herd out there soon.”

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Zoo staff plans to introduce six-year-old Anuli to the outdoor spaces with Caesar in the next few weeks. Then, they said they will introduce eight-year-old Kesi and two-year-old Willow.

The Zoo said once the construction is complete and the giraffe are acclimated to their new surroundings, the Giraffe Feeding Station will reopen to the public.

Eventually, the giraffe will be able to cross over from their dedicated habitat into the new Upper Savanna habitat.

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By Katelyn Haas