Halls Gap Zoo owners have said the community connection to the zoo couldn't be stronger after an "overwhelming" response to the death of giraffe Pumika last week.
The 11-year-old giraffe had been a feature of the zoo since 2012 when it was transported to the region as part of the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia breeding program.
Owner Greg Culell said the giraffe was an important part of the zoo family who would be remembered for his outgoing, friendly nature.
"It was a sad time for everyone not only at the Zoo but across the region and beyond as well," he said.
"We have found that some residents across the region take a sense of pride and ownership of the zoo and that's what we're here to do. We feel like the community is along for the journey with us as well.
"Although it comes out at sad times, we're really proud the community has a sense of ownership.
"The zoo is a business. We own it but we also feel like it's a community asset and we really appreciate the feeling we get from the local community."
Mr Culell explained although Pumika wasn't bred through the breeding program he still played an integral part.
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"There are many roles in a breeding program and the role we place is we take on the males that aren't required to be used as studs," he said.
"That allows more room at the zoos which do the breeding. It's not a direct role but it is just as important as the role as the stud as it allows more giraffes to be bred - for every female born there is a male born but you only use one male for multiple females in the breeding."
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