Posts Tagged With: giraffe

World Giraffe Day: When it comes to giraffe conservation, we take it personally

Auggie shows off his impressive height next to Katie

Dallas Zoo North Savanna Supervisor Lisa Fitzgerald, Assistant Supervisor Allison Dean, and Giraffe Keeper II Jessica Romano guest blog for ZooHoo!

Since 1998 the population of giraffes in Africa has dropped from 140,000 to less than 80,000 individuals. That’s only 80,000 wild giraffes left in the entire world! For comparison, there are more than 1.3 million people living in Dallas and over 200,000 people living in Oak Cliff alone.

Tebogo

As zookeepers at Dallas Zoo’s Giants of the Savanna habitat, we take giraffe conservation personally. We think giraffes are amazing and beautiful creatures. As keepers, we have the privilege of getting to know them as individuals and sharing in their daily lives. As wildlife conservationists, we want to ensure that the four species of giraffes not only survive, but thrive in the wild for eternity.

Why has the giraffe population dropped so dramatically? This is largely a situation created by us – humans. Prolonged civil wars in northeast Africa have created large populations of refugees, living in city sized refugee camps. Refugees seek protein sources and giraffes are large, easy targets.  Human population growth has also broken wildlife habitats into pieces, splitting giraffe populations into smaller groups that cannot recombine for breeding.

The Dallas Zoo partners with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) to provide monitoring of giraffe populations, procure and protect giraffe habitat, and seek workable solutions that identify and relieve threats to wild giraffes. As members and visitors, you help us support GCF’s efforts!

Want to do more? 

  • Spread the word! Most people don’t know giraffes are a threatened species. Ask your friends which of these wild populations is the smallest, elephant or giraffe? The answer is giraffe – there are approximately 350,000 elephants in Africa vs. 80,000 giraffes
  • Support conservation groups like the Giraffe Conservation Foundation
  • Take that life changing trip to Africa and see giraffes in the wild – you will also be supporting local economies and communities
  • Consider a working vacation to Africa – volunteer for a non-profit organization, like Earthwatch

    Chrystal and Katie

  • Contribute to efforts to aid and relocate refugees

Meet Dallas Zoo’s herd:

Auggie – our oldest giraffe is 14 years old. Also known as “Uncle Auggie” for his gentle and protective approach with calves.

Tebogo – our breeder and greeter. Tebogo is the father of the calves born in the Giants of the Savanna. He is people oriented and can be easily identified by his dark brown spots.

Jesse – our tallest giraffe. Measuring in at more than 17 feet, Jesse is a total sweetheart and Jade’s BFF.

Ferrell – everyone’s buddy and one of our most curious giraffes. He is always keeping a watchful eye on what is going on.

Five – a shy guy, but one of our most handsome giraffes. Five has a beautiful brown coat with thin white stripes.

Katie – our most prolific mother. Katie is a beautiful giraffe with an even temperament and a slight sassy side.

Tsavo and Katie

Chrystal – “the diva.” Chrystal is our other mother and likes things her way.

Jade – “the princess.” Jade is very particular and sensitive; she likes compliments.

Betty – the “new girl in town.” Betty is our 2-year-old giraffe and has a warm personality when she isn’t getting into trouble.

Tsavo – “the baby.” Tsavo is Katie’s third calf here at Dallas Zoo and is the newest addition to our herd. While still growing into his personality, we can already tell he is going to be a lot of fun! He’s got his mama’s good looks and his dad’s rambunctious spirit. Tsavo is quite curious about his keepers and the rest of the herd. When he isn’t following mom around, Tsavo enjoys running and exploring. An affectionate little guy, he likes to nuzzle the other adults and will often give them good morning kisses through the stalls. Tsavo’s already nibbling on bits of browse, and bamboo, in particular, seems to be his favorite. Guests can now see Tsavo out in the giraffe feeding yard with mom and other herd members.

Happy World Giraffe Day from the Dallas Zoo giraffe herd and their keepers! Thank you for loving giraffes as much as we do.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Giraffe | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Q&A: Katie’s calf is here! Now what?

Katie and baby 1 4x6 logoWe’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and interest in our viral star Katie and her sweet baby girl. It’s hard to put it into words how incredible this entire “Giraffe Birth Live” experience has been for the Dallas Zoo. We’re honored to have partnered with Animal Planet to show you the miracle of life as it unfolded live on your television screens.

While we’re trying to respond to as many of you as possible on social media, we may miss a few of your questions and comments. Here are the answers to the questions we’re receiving most.

Q. This was amazing. Why did you do this? We believe the public benefits from seeing what goes on behind the scenes at a leading, accredited U.S. zoo. We’re extremely proud of our animal and veterinary teams, and the excellent, dedicated care they provide. Showing this birth also allowed us to teach about giraffes, including how threatened they are in Africa. We hope that will convince more people to get involved in conservation efforts with the groups with which we partner to help preserve giraffes in the wild.

Q: How can I help save wild giraffes? Please make a donation to our giraffe conservation partner that’s helping save giraffes in the wild. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation is at the forefront of protecting giraffe (sub)species in Africa. Click HERE to make a donation. Please follow them on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Q: Now that Katie’s baby is here, when can we see her in person? Spring is here, which means rain in Texas! In a perfect world, the baby would go out within a week of birth to the giraffe feeding yard in the Giants of the Savanna habitat. However, the rainy weather is stalling that plan. Keepers have to wait until the habitat is no longer muddy for the baby to safely roam the area (she’s quite the runner already!).

As soon as the rain subsides and the ground is dry, the baby will go out for you to meet. When that time comes, the baby will be out on select days during nice weather. We’ll share those times with you on Facebook, Twitter and on the ZooHoo! blog, but it’s always a safe bet to call before you visit, so you’re not disappointed.

Q: For those who don’t live in Texas, how can we see the baby’s first day in the habitat? Our video/photography team will capture the baby’s first day out as she meets the public. We will definitely share this on social media!

Katie and baby 3 4x6 logoQ: It looks like Katie isn’t letting her baby to nurse enough. What’s happening? This is normal giraffe behavior. The average calf nurse is just 66 seconds, and can often be less than 10 seconds! Giraffes are built to survive in the wild, which means the calves have to get a quick mouthful of milk and move on because of predators. These guys are naturally on constant alert. Compared to cow’s milk, giraffe’s milk has more fat, protein and less lactose. Each squirt of giraffe milk is extremely nutritious for the calf. The calf’s feedings look great to keepers, who are monitoring all activity.

Q: When can Katie get some fresh air? Katie and her calf were scheduled to go outside into the outdoor area that’s not in public view today (Monday), but the rain changed that. (We can’t take a risk of the baby falling in the mud!) You may see Katie pacing in the maternity stall because she wants to go outside, but right now she has to do what’s best for baby. As soon as our keepers feel the outdoor space is safe, they’ll let the two roam in that area.

Q: How is the baby going to be named? Our giraffe keepers are selecting three names. We have a recent policy of naming our animals after their native country — for example, calf Kopano’s name means “united” in Botswana — to further conservation messaging and to show respect for their wild brethren. We will open up the name selection to a public vote later this week on our website.

Q: When will the Animal Planet cameras be taken down? We don’t have a date yet, but it will in all likelihood be this week. Once Katie and the calf head outside more often, there will be less to see!

Q: When will the other giraffes meet the baby? Giraffe Auggie will be the first introduced; he’ll also be the only giraffe to go out into the feeding yard with her and Katie. Auggie is our 14-year-old gentle giant; he’s the most calm, patient and mature giraffe in the herd. The calf will slowly meet the other members of the herd as she grows. Jade, Katie’s good pal, will be the first female to meet the calf, and 4-year-old sister Jamie will probably be the last female to meet the calf, to avoid “jealous big sister syndrome.”

Q: Does father Tebogo recognize his offspring? Tebogo is interested in them, but there’s no way of telling if he knows they’re his children. He enjoys sniffing and licking them through the mesh, though.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Education, Giraffe, Mammals, Media, Nutrition, Social Media, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Dallas Zoo’s viral star giraffe calf doing great

Katie and baby giraffeThe new giraffe calf that made his/her debut in front of millions of adoring fans on Animal Planet is doing well this morning, enthralling viewers worldwide by testing out new legs, running through mom Katie’s legs and nursing frequently.

The calf is active, nursing, running and playing, and left the maternity stall for a few minutes while zookeepers cleaned up and put out fresh grain and branches for Katie. The calf also has nursed often, and Katie is remaining very calm and patient with the little one. Dallas Zoo keepers are explaining the process on social media, sharing information such as that giraffe nursings are very short, with an average of just 66 seconds.

Saturday night, Animal Planet is airing a one-hour special about the unprecedented simulcast event and the months of preparation that lead to the successful birth. The special will premiere at 8 p.m. CDT, with an encore airing to follow at 10 p.m. CDT.

The calf’s birth caught the attention of animal-lovers worldwide after the Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet launched the joint project, GIRAFFE BIRTH LIVE CAM to show the birth live on the Animal Planet L!VE streaming video site. The coverage of Katie’s delivery required six months of planning and nearly two months of camera and wiring installations. The social streams of the zoo (@DallasZoo) and Animal Planet (@AnimalPlanet) have been inundated with fans using the hashtags #GiraffeBirthLive and #TeamKatie.

Online viewers have so far watched over 1.5 million live video streams since the cameras launched and many more tuned in after Animal Planet aired the birth live on-air, narrated by the Dallas Zoo’s Harrison Edell, the senior director of living collections.

Katie went into labor just before 5 p.m. yesterday and delivered the healthy calf less than an hour later. Edell calmly took viewers through the drama of the live birth, describing the events, checking in with the zoo’s veterinary team and teaching about the threats the magnificent animals face in the wild. Mirroring viewers’ excitement, he captured the staff’s elation during milestones such as when the calf opened its eyes; tried several times to stand; began to walk; and began to nurse. One of the most popular moments during the live broadcast was when the other members of the zoo’s giraffe herd all poked their heads over the wall of the maternity stall to check in on the birth.giraffe baby 9

Sunday morning between 9:30-10 a.m., the webcast cameras will be on standby for approximately half an hour while the Dallas Zoo veterinary team conducts its first well-baby checkup. The calf’s gender will be known after that checkup. A name will be chosen after that time from African-themed recommendations from Katie’s keepers.

“We love having this type of platform to share this incredible event,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and chief executive officer. “To be able to share this with so many people around the world is very special. We couldn’t be prouder of our staff and, of course, of Katie!”

“Wherever amazing things are happening in the animal world – that’s where Animal Planet wants to be. Without a doubt the epicenter for this over the last several days has been Dallas, and we can’t thank our hosts at the Dallas Zoo enough,” said Marjorie Kaplan, president of Animal Planet, TLC and Velocity. “We are so thrilled to have played a part in the beautiful shared moment of the birth of Katie’s calf. The overwhelming interest in this amazing event goes to show the transcendent appeal of natural beauty in the modern world.”

The calf’s father is Tebogo, one of the most popular giraffes at the Dallas Zoo. Katie has one previous calf, Jamie, who was born in 2011. Jamie remains with the 13-member Dallas Zoo herd, which roams the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat. The Dallas Zoo is the only zoo in the United States to allow giraffes and elephants to mingle with each other, alongside zebra, impala, guineafowl and other African species.

A reticulated giraffe, Katie is one of approximately 4,700 who remain, down from an estimated 31,000 in 1998, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Through the Species Survival Plan, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums – including the Dallas Zoo – have built programs dedicated to appropriate breeding for genetic diversity.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Giraffe, Media, Social Media, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Q&A: GIRAFFE BIRTH LIVE

Keepers say giraffe Katie is one of the most beautiful girls in the herd. /Dallas Zoo

Keepers say giraffe Katie is one of the most beautiful girls in the herd. /Dallas Zoo

You have questions, we have answers! We couldn’t be more proud to team up with Animal Planet television network on a remarkable project, as we live-stream and televise a giraffe birth for the first time. Our Katie, already a mom to calf Jamie back in 2011, is a special girl, with gorgeous looks and a sweet personality.

We’re answering your questions on Twitter and Facebook, but we’ve also put together this Q&A to help you understand everything about “Giraffe Birth Live.”

Q: What’s happening, and why? We are partnering with Animal Planet to show you the birth of a new calf to Katie, one of our 12 giraffes. The animal husbandry expertise of our giraffe keepers and veterinary team are superb, and we’re proud of the incredible work they do. We’ve chosen to pull back the curtain a bit so you can see how much our staff cares about our animals, and how dedicated they are to caring for them.

Q: What will we see? Right now, you can watch Katie in her maternity stall on the web at apl.tv/giraffe. When she goes into labor, you’ll be able to watch the birth unfold there. Animal Planet also plans to interrupt their live TV network if possible.

Q: How has Katie reacted to the cameras? We have taken great pains over the past several months with this process. Giraffes are very inquisitive and have excellent eyesight, so they see even the smallest changes in their world. And our animal staff are not shy about protecting the giraffes! They oversaw all installations and had veto power over any part of the process that they felt might cause stress to the giraffes.

We installed all equipment – from the 10 cameras down to single cables – very slowly and gradually and gave the herd time to get used to them well before the birth window hit. Katie was curious about some of the cameras at first, but never seemed stressed, and now she just ignores them.

Q: When is Katie’s due date? The window for birth is now to early May, but we think it will be before May. She could have the calf any day now.

Q: How long is a giraffe’s gestational period? About 15 months.

Q: Where is Katie when she’s not on camera? She’s outside enjoying the Texas sun and walking around, which is really good for her. This outdoor area isn’t in public view or on camera.

Q: Why aren’t there cameras outside? The eight special cameras installed by Animal Planet are focused solely on the maternity stall, since that is where the main event will occur. These multiple cameras allow Animal Planet to show several angles of the birth.

Q: What if Katie goes into labor outside? When she’s outside, our keepers monitor her constantly. If they see signs of labor, the keepers will move her back into the maternity stall.

Q: Can I see Katie right now in the Giants of the Savanna habitat? No, Katie is not out in the exhibit. Now that she’s so close to delivering, she’s no longer in those public areas so we can keep a closer eye on her.

Q: How much notice will you give viewers so we can see the birth? As much as we can! Giraffe labor can take several hours, or it could happen quickly. We’re hoping to give you several hours of notice before the calf arrives, but it depends on Katie! We recommend signing up for text alerts on the Animal Planet website, at apl.tv/giraffe. Look to the right under “Birth Alerts and More.”

Katie and her first calf Jamie share a sweet moment in 2011./Dallas Zoo

Katie and her first calf Jamie share a sweet moment in 2011./Dallas Zoo

Q: What happens if Katie delivers in the middle of the night and we miss seeing it? Animal Planet plans to air a special show later, which will show you the prenatal care Katie received, how her keepers care for her and the other giraffes, and how the birth unfolded. We’ll share on our social media when we find out when it will air (most likely very soon after the birth).

Q: What time does Katie come in for the night? Katie is usually in her maternity stall each evening around 5 p.m. CDT for dinner.

Q: Is anyone monitoring Katie in the middle of the night? Yes, the keepers are watching her around the clock. Our nine-member giraffe team takes turns monitoring the Zoo’s overhead cameras from their homes via their cellphone or computer. Night keepers also check on Katie in the giraffe barn. (And actually, we’re all so excited about this that many other staffers are watching, too!)

Q: What if something goes wrong during the delivery? With any birth – people OR animals – that’s always a risk, although our teams have performed much prenatal care to minimize it. Our veterinarians are on call 24/7, and they and the keepers stand ready to assist if needed. In that case, Katie is trained walk into the giraffe restraint device (GRD), a special padded, custom-built chute where the team will be able to safely help with the delivery. There, keepers can help her without using anesthesia, a risk we always try to avoid for the health of both mom and calf.

Q: Why is Katie in her own stall? Katie needs her own space to safely deliver the calf, since we have a large (and curious!) herd. While they won’t try to hurt the calf, some of them weigh up to 2,500 pounds, and we don’t want to risk them stepping on it. The maternity stall is specially equipped with extra layers of soft sand for Katie’s comfort and as a cushion for the baby when he/she drops 6 feet at birth. (You’ll notice her dedicated keepers cleaning her stall daily on the webcam.) After the birth, the separate stall also provides a safe space for mother-calf bonding.

Q: Who are the other giraffes next to Katie’s stall? There are 11 other giraffes who could be checking on Katie – including our youngest, Kopano, who was born in October. All are curious, especially her pal Jade, who’s often seen peeking over.

Q: Who is the baby’s father? The proud papa-to-be is Tebogo. He’s our only breeding male under the Giraffe Species Survival Plan’s (SSP) program to ensure genetic diversity within this threatened species. Tebogo also is the father of Kopano as well as 4-year-old Jamie, who was Katie’s first baby.

Q: Why does the Animal Planet webcam periodically go black? It goes off now and then while Animal Planet makes technical updates or switches between camera feeds.

If you have other questions, please post them and we’ll do our best to respond. We’re thrilled to show you the effort, skill and dedication our staff provides. This partnership with Animal Planet will give the world a better perspective on the responsibility we shoulder as an accredited zoological park. We’re seeing your support on social media and we thank you for taking such great interest in this special birth.

Q: When did you start this project? We first began talking about it last September, so it’s been a very involved process.

Q: How does the staff like it? The keepers and supervisors in the animal department have been amazing. It’s certainly added to their workload, and many people wouldn’t like having cameras on them as they do their daily work. However, they are so dedicated to giraffes and to conservation efforts on their behalf. And they realize that by showing this type of program, we can help people understand the need to support conservation efforts in Africa, as we do, and the need for the work done at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. So the team has been incredibly cooperative. They’re the best!

As for our PR team… well, don’t ask about the PR team.

Please click HERE for Animal Planet’s Q&A. (And don’t forget to sign up HERE for the “Katie’s about to have her baby” text and email alert.)

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Education, Giraffe, Mammals, Media, Social Media, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Voters choose name for baby giraffe: “Kopano”

Baby giraffe explores habitat for first time with mother Chrystal and oldest male giraffe, Auggie./Dallas Zoo

Baby giraffe explores habitat for first time with mother Chrystal and oldest male giraffe, Auggie./Dallas Zoo

After five days of online voting that drew more than 10,000 votes, the public has spoken: the Dallas Zoo’s new baby giraffe will be named “Kopano,” meaning “united” in Botswana.

Voters also could name a school to receive a special visit by our Animal Adventures team. However, in appreciation of the overwhelming response, we’ve decided to choose four schools to receive visits. Those schools, chosen randomly from among the names suggested, will be announced later this week.

The calf was gently introduced to the outdoor feeding yard habitat over the weekend. But starting Monday, he will make regular afternoon appearances outdoors, weather permitting. The giraffe keepers will keep a close eye on temperature, wind and rain to ensure that he remains safe and healthy.

One-week-old Kopano./Dallas Zoo

One-week-old Kopano./Dallas Zoo

“It’s a great feeling to see how involved the public has been in the two weeks since this giraffe calf arrived,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo’s chief executive officer and president. “The community’s connection to Kopano is critical to our mission of teaching about the importance of these endangered animals in the wild.”

The Dallas Zoo 12-member giraffe herd is now one of the largest in the nation, with six males and six females. Their ages range from the newborn to the oldest, Auggie, who is 12. They recently received national coverage in a web series by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Camera crews followed the herd around the habitat for several days, showing viewers why these gentle giants are so remarkable.

WATCH this adorable video of Kopano testing out his new legs in the feeding yard for the first time. We may have to nickname him “Clumsy!”

 

 

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Exhibits and Experiences, Giraffe, Mammals | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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