To look at a giraffe is to be reminded of the fascinating, beautiful, and important diversity of life that exists on our planet. Just as each of its unique features serves an ecological purpose for the giraffe, so does its role in wild ecosystems. Every year on June 21, we stand tall for giraffe and advocate for their protection in the wild in celebration of World Giraffe Day.
Wild giraffe populations have decreased by 30% since the 1980s due to habitat loss, poaching and disease. In partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), your Zoo is working to secure a future for giraffe through innovative population research and management, education, and protection efforts. What does this look like?
Operation Twiga: This initiative to translocate giraffe from threatened areas to key conservation reserves has helped bolster healthy giraffe populations and the communities surrounding their habitat. In 2019, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Epidemiologist Dr. Pam Dennis and keeper Claire Winkler traveled to Uganda to assist with Operation Twiga and the giraffe health studies conducted alongside translocation efforts.
Twiga Tracker: The largest GPS satellite tracking study ever conducted on giraffe, this initiative strengthens conservation strategies for giraffe by better understanding where and when they move and how they utilize habitat space across their range. Small, solar-powered tracking devices affixed to the giraffe’s ossicones transmit data that creates fascinating visualizations and guides giraffe conservation plans.
Studying Giraffe Skin Disease: Operation Twiga’s translocation efforts have also opened the door to studying Giraffe Skin Disease, an emerging affliction that is not yet well understood. As giraffe are collected for translocation, important biological data is gathered to advance research efforts around this disease.
Education and Outreach: Through engagement of local communities living alongside giraffe, GCF shares their work and facilitates greater understanding of giraffe’s ecological importance in wild habitats. An ocean away, your Zoo supports local outreach in East Africa and amplifies the importance of taking action for giraffe conservation in the zoo community.
Anyone can help spread the word about giraffe conservation. Share your knowledge of giraffe, the threats they face in the wild, and what your Zoo is doing to help secure their future. If you can, donate to support these important conservation efforts. Wild ecosystems need them, and the world would not be as uniquely beautiful without them – let’s stand tall for giraffe.