The Last of Us Finale Used a Real and Trained Giraffes for Its Most Tender Scene!

Even fans of the original video game series were thrilled to see a giraffe make its major entrance in the dramatic season 1 ending of The Last of Us, which still has us in a state of shock over some unexpected revelations and appearances. Even though it was just a short scene, fans of both the game and the show know how important it is.

The show’s creator, Crag Mazin, remarked in the post-episode brief, “There’s this moment where they meet a giraffe, and we really just watch the game very closely because it’s so beautiful.”

Fans are freaking out not only because the giant animal is still alive in this world, but also because it’s a real giraffe. Unlike most things in The Last of Us, that cute giraffe didn’t come to life thanks to some amazing CGI.

The fact that a live giraffe was actually brought onto the stage as opposed to using CGI is what is most startling about this contact with nature. Production designer John Paino described this process in an interview with Variety.

The Last of Us Finale Used a Real and Trained Giraffes for Its Most Tender Scene

Nabo, a real giraffe, was reportedly transported from the Calgary Zoo in Alberta. Hence, although appearing somewhat digital on film, the giraffe that you saw in The Last of Us was genuinely living and interacting with the cast.

If we had the time, visual effects supervisor Alex Wang probably could have created a CGI giraffe. With a very tiny video crew present, we needed to see whether we could help the giraffe get used to being fed by strangers. There was an outdoor enclosure where the keepers would watch it and an inner enclosure with a balcony. The trainers tried to get them to consume food from an unfamiliar hand, according to Paino.

Thus, when Ellie and Joel approach the enclosure, the giraffe can be seen nibbling those food branches. Alex isolating the giraffes and bringing them to our set is pure Hollywood magic. The VFX stage, scenery, and location I worked on for that project were perhaps the most difficult to piece together, he continued.

Check out our character guides for The Last of Us characters like Riley, Tommy or the Fireflies for more information about the show. You could also anticipate the debut of The Last of Us season 2.