Is the giraffe in ‘The Last of Us’ real?

The Last of Us Giraffe Scene HBO
Image via HBO

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for HBO’s The Last of Us.

HBO’s The Last of Us has been fairly accurate to the games, creating iconic locations that any fan of the Naughty Dog series would instantly recognize. In the final episode of the first season, entitled “Look for the Light ” there were many moments ripped straight from the source material, but none were quite as well done as the giraffe scene.

If you were not aware, it comes directly from the game, and it works in very much the same way. After spending most of the story with Ellie, who is undeniably a child, you play as her encountering David. The whole chapter is filled with dread, and Ellie essentially loses the innocence that comes with youth when she kills him.

So, when she crosses paths with the giraffe, it’s a beautiful way of finding that innocence again. The animal also acts as a symbol of hope for the two characters, which is needed going into the final act of the game. Of course, some people might be wondering whether the scene was really the same, as in the PlayStation favorite, the giraffe obviously isn’t real. So, let’s take a look at whether or not it was recreated using visual effects.

Was the giraffe from The Last of Us real or fake?

Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) looking over a balcony
Image via HBO

Surprisingly, even though it might have looked fake, the giraffe was real. But, while its interactions with Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) were real, the scene was actually a mix of CGI, location shooting, and scenery. According to an interview that the production designer John Paino had with Variety, they filmed the giraffe in an enclosure where it was comfortable with its trainers.

Joel and Ellie are actually the ones feeding it too, as they had trained the giraffe to eat out of a stranger’s hands. But, it took months to set up green screen panels in the giraffe’s enclosure to do it, which is why the scene might have looked a bit odd. Yet it wasn’t that the giraffe was fake, just that everything around it was.

It is pretty unbelievable that the giraffe was actually real, even though the background was touched up with visual effects. We shouldn’t have expected anything less when the series recreated the clickers with prosthetics, though. Part of the uniqueness of the show comes from how its post-apocalyptic world is a real one, and this real world is apparently filled with real giraffes. 

You can currently watch all of HBO’s The Last of Us on HBO Max.

About the author

Tristyn Akbas

Tristyn Akbas

Tristyn Akbas is an SEO writer for We Got This Covered. He graduated from the University of New South Wales, with a Bachelor's Degree in Film and Writing. Tristyn specializes in the geekier side of writing and is always up to date on the latest movies, TV, comic books, and video games. He particularly likes anything superhero or horror-related, and in his free time, you'll find him earning PlayStation trophies.