STATES CHRONICLE – New scientific breakthrough determined scientists to warn zoos about their way of handling giraffes which appear to be on the verge of extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed giraffes on the Red List of Threatened Species. This is terrible news, especially since their status was changed to “Threatened.”
When the organization has announced this dramatic change, they had also stated that giraffes faced a population decline of about 40% over the last thirty years. Dennis Pate, the executive director, and CEO of the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has claimed that many scientists and researchers were in shock to find out that these giants are down to approximately 97,000 individuals.
What is more, a new research recently in Current Biology magazine, noted that there might exist about four species of giraffe and not a single one. Pate stated that if this study is demonstrated to reveal the facts, then zoos from all over the country should be extremely careful about handling and taking care of the captive number of giraffes.
Pate, who was also a chairman of the board of directors of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, stated that every time a zoo is planning to exhibit a new giraffe, the zoo team might be conducted to keep or acquire only one species, hoping that they can carefully study and breed these animals. Giraffes which live in zoos represent part of the assurance number, in case the wild population will continue to decrease.
Thus, it is crucial to maintain genetic diversity and pure species among them. For example, for Omaha Zoo this might mean that some of the ten giraffes there might be forced to be taken somewhere else. They only need to keep one species. Only reticulated giraffes together with some of the crossbred hybrids will remain.
According to Pate, the species of giraffes in zoos are split between 75% reticulated giraffes, 10% Masai ones and 15% Rothschild. Over the years, zoos have received from scientists several conflicting recommendations regarding breeding. Sometimes, they were told to breed just distinct subspecies. Some other times, they were advised to produce all of them, this also remaining the current recommendation.
Dan Cassidy, the Omaha zoo’s general curator, claimed that it had been a challenge for them to sort the giraffes by their species and figure out a way to make a significant population.
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