Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs is creating the International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe. The program aims to increase animal welfare and respond to emergency situations. In part, the center will help train giraffes to assist in their own veterinary care and support emergency communication by creating an online network between giraffe experts, zoos and other agencies around the world.
The program has been in the works for the past 10 years, according to the zoo. Online communication spurred by the pandemic helped shorten the timeline.
The center has three main goals:
- Improve the quality of veterinary care available for giraffe in human care and leverage that information for field conservation.
- Continue to advance behavioral husbandry practices to improve giraffe welfare.
- Establish Emergency Response Teams worldwide to respond to giraffe health emergencies and field conservation needs.
Over 200 giraffes have been born at the zoo in Colorado Springs, and it currently has 17 giraffes in its herd. According to officials, this makes it one of the largest herds in North America.
Amy Schilz is the senior animal behaviorist at the zoo. She said that due to the herds' large size, people come from abroad to study it.
“We have people come from all over the world every year to learn from our herd, and then take that information back home to work with their giraffes to improve their knowledge and understanding with their own animals,” she said.
Schilz said the program hopes to better connect experts to where they are needed most.
“Our goal is not to necessarily be the experts but to know who all the experts are,” she said. “When people call us we can put them in contact with other people that might have different skill sets or resources.”
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