The Last of Us giraffe is real and its name is Nabo

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us episode 9
(Image credit: HBO)

The Last of Us episode 9 might have been an action-packed, heart-breaking thrill ride – but it also featured a very adorable giraffe, and the good news is that the animal is all real (and is named Nabo). Some light spoilers follow for the finale, so turn back now if you don't want to know any more!

On the way to the Firefly hospital, Joel and Ellie come across one magnificent creature. Ellie pets and feeds the giant giraffe, while Joel watches on with a fond smile. It's a wholesome moment taken straight from the game, but it's made even more heart-warming by the fact that the giraffe is very much real, not CGI, and the actors were actually interacting with it on set. 

As revealed in the Making of The Last of Us HBO Max documentary, Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey really did film the moment with Nabo surrounded by blue screen, and their surroundings were added via VFX later. 

"Giraffes are pretty massive," Ramsey says in the doc. "It's like a spiritual experience almost, being so close to such a magnificent animal." 

"Shooting with Nabo the giraffe will certainly be one of my favorite experiences," says the episode's location manager, Matt Palmer, who adds later: "You can create a giraffe in visual effects, but it's just not the same." 

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Elsewhere in the episode, we also finally learned why Ellie is immune to Cordyceps, a crucial The Last of Us Part 2 actor had a secret cameo in a major moment, and a key scene set up a brutal Part 2 plot point

For much more on the show, see our deep dive into The Last of Us ending explained, as well as the differences between episode 9 and the game

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.