As the giraffe population continues to decrease in the wild, the care of these animals in zoos is a growing concern for zoologists and animal lovers of every stripe. Many issues unique to giraffes must be taken into account when caring for the long-necked mammals.
The preferred food of the giraffe is the acacia tree. If a zoo is able to provide their animals with this valuable resource, all attempts should be made. Substitutes could be made depending on climate, but for optimal health such substitutions are not advised. Besides acacia, they primarily take in water for their diet. Various fruits and bugs make up a smaller part of their menu.
Giraffes are occasionally violent, even to their mates. The ability to separate animals for a given period of time, perhaps a week or more, is necessary to prevent the injury or death of the weaker giraffe. Male giraffes are also indiscriminate in their mating patterns, and if two or more males are put together in one pen, barriers may be necessary to prevent fruitless coupling.
Perhaps most interestingly is the little-known fact that a variety of subspecies exist in the giraffe kingdom, and some may in fact prove to be a distinct species. This not only makes the conservation of giraffes more crucial, as some subspecies have only a handful of animals left, but when transporting a giraffe from the wild to captivity, care must be taken to keep similar subspecies together. Naturally, one subspecies does not breed with another, and whether they would do so in zoos is unknown. A random pairing could result in the failure to produce offspring.
The giraffe is a creature beloved by children and adults the world over, but its future is uncertain as its natural habitat continues to decrease. With this in mind, it is necessary for zookeepers and other zoo employees to be aware of the unique needs of the giraffe, and tend to them accordingly. Future generations will only be able to appreciate this majestic beast if we treat them properly today.