So, The Last of Us TV series has come to an end already, or at least the first season has. If you haven’t seen The Last of Us episode 9 yet, be warned we are about to discuss a very minor spoiler. It’s not exactly something that affects the wider narrative, but if you prefer surprises, look away now.
If you have seen the finale of the horror series, you’ll know there’s some pretty epic moments in there, including one scene where Joel and Ellie meet a giraffe, just like they do in the original survival game. It’s one of the more tender and pure moments in the episode, which is otherwise fairly violent.
What is most surprising about this encounter with nature, though, is the fact that the production actually brought a real giraffe on to the set rather than creating a CGI version. Speaking to Variety, production designer John Paino explained how this worked.
Apparently, a real giraffe by the name of Nabo was brought over from The Calgary Zoo in Alberta. So, the giraffe you see on the screen may have looked digital to some degree, but it was actually alive and interacting with members of The Last of Us cast.
“I’m sure Alex Wang, visual effects supervisor, could have made a CGI giraffe if we had the time. We needed to see if we could acclimate the giraffe to strangers feeding it, with a very small film crew there. There was the indoor enclosure with a balcony and an outdoor one where the keepers would take care of it. The trainers worked to get them to eat out of a stranger’s hand,” Paino said.
“So, when Ellie and Joel walk up at the enclosure, that’s the giraffe eating those branches of food. That’s Hollywood magic of Alex isolating the giraffes and putting them on our set. That was probably the most complicated piecing of VFX stage, scenery and location I’ve worked on,” he added.
For more from the show, dive into our guides to The Last of Us characters like Tess, Bill and Frank, or the Fireflies. Alternatively, look ahead to The Last of Us season 2 release date, or explore the best Pedro Pascal movies.