In case you're wondering, yes, that was a real giraffe that HBO brought onto the set of The Last of Us in order to recreate one of the game's most iconic scenes.
The giraffe, whose name is Nabo, lives in a closeby Alberta zoo. But, while the close proximity to the filming location was a blessing, Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann still deserve props for going the extra mile.
Fans of the video game know the giraffe scene like the back of their hands. The show has deviated from its source material many times. Mostly, this is done to make things fit better and flesh out certain details more. However, this one felt like it was pulled straight out of the award-winning title.
Bella Ramsey's Ellie is still visibly shaken from her encounter with the cannibalistic cult in Episode 8. Pedro Pascal's Joel sees this and attempts to make the situation better. Moments later, we're treated to a peaceful moment between the two as they look in awe and wonder at the herd of giraffes that call the once-bustling city home.
This heartwarming scene resonates even more once you realize that it's the perfect "calm before the storm."
As for how it was made, the story behind it is even better. While the entire scene isn't CGI (the broken building isn't actually real), Naughty Dog really went ahead and got Nabo, specifically, for this moment.
The Making of The Last of Us shed light on several key moments from the show. This one, in particular, stood out for Pascal. According to him, the interaction with an actual animal was "everything" for him. Perhaps this would explain why Pascal's entire performance in the closing moments of the same episode spoke so loudly despite having very little dialogue.
We're hoping that HBO and Naughty Dog don't shy away from these CGI-averse decisions going forward. The Last of Us is confirmed to extend beyond just one more season as it adapts the events of The Last of Us Part II.
Speaking of The Last of Us, the franchise's 10th anniversary is coming up in June as will the 10th The Last of Us Day. The developers have already confirmed that it will reveal The Last of Us Multiplayer sometime later this year. But, we're hoping Naughty Dog has more of The Last of Us up its sleeve. Who knows? The Last of Us Part III might be a part of its plans.