By: Jocelyn Cano
As of Dec. 8, 2016, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has officially declared giraffes vulnerable for extinction, with their population declining 40 percent in the last 30 years. This decline is due to loss of habitats and illegal hunting. The Brookfield Zoo is doing their part to make sure these animals stay off of the endangered list.
“We all know about the big, mega vertebrates like rhinos and the elephants,” Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Chicago Zoological Society, said, “where there’s international trade in ivory and rhino horn, but you don’t look at much international trade in giraffes, so it hasn’t been on the big radar as far as the general public is aware, but the fact is they’re suffering a greater decline than the rhinos and the elephants, because of poaching for meat as well as loss of habitat.”
The Giraffe Conservation foundation has named the Reticulated Giraffe the subspecies with the greatest decline in its population of about 80 percent. This means the population has gone from about 30,000 giraffes to about 5,000. This subspecies can be found at the Brookfield Zoo.
The Brookfield Zoo has been working towards giraffe conservation for some time now, but more recently has joined efforts with the Reticulated Giraffe Project in northern Kenya to provide the program with more resources, spread awareness and continue to strive towards greater giraffe conservation.
“The last two years we’ve made a significant investment in this program,” Amy Roberts, curator of mammals for the Brookfield Zoo, said, “we’re looking to not only connect the people that come to our zoo with wildlife nature but more on a global scale.”