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.
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
- 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.
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.