Standing Tall for Conservation

Friday, June 21, 2019

Standing Tall for Conservation

Giraffe certainly stand out in the animal kingdom and have become a beloved species around the globe. There are plenty of reasons to love giraffe, but many don’t realize the plight they are facing.

Giraffe in its natural habitat–Botswana, Africa.

These herbivores can be found in groups (also known as “towers”) roaming the African savannas. They spend most of the day grazing on woodland vegetation and looking out for predators. In the 1980s, there were an estimated 155,000 individual giraffe in their natural habitat, but today they are facing what is known as a Silent Extinction, with populations having decreased by an estimated forty percent. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified them as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, primarily due to habitat degradation and poaching for their meat, bones, and tails.

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is home to Gage and Rafiki. They are known as “bachelors,” meaning they aren’t currently recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to participate in the Species Survival Program (SSP) for giraffe. These two males serve as excellent ambassador animals, allowing guests to see giraffe in-person and connect with them through an up-close feeding experience that is offered daily at the Zoo.

Our staff and volunteers are passionate about these animals and can be found at the giraffe habitat every day (not just on the longest day of the year–World Giraffe Day!) educating visitors about the species, their current status, and share information on steps everyone can take to help protect giraffe throughout the world.

Gage and Rafiki enjoying enrichment with our senior hoofstock keeper, Nikki.

We’re proud to support the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, a boots-on-the-ground organization with international advocates collaborating and developing science-based, innovative conservation approaches. Your donations through the Zoo’s Round-Up for Conservation program and support during our World Giraffe Day celebration help make an impact for Gage and Rafiki’s counterparts in Africa. Together, we can take a stand for giraffe worldwide!

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