New giraffe house important for conservation
The brand new giraffe house signals an important step forward in the conservation of the endangered Rothschild's giraffe.
The Woburn herd is currently made up on 14 members, with the majority being female. Only Caspar, the adult bull, is at breeding age and the other juvenile males will move onto other zoos to start their own paternal lines in co-ordination with EEP (Endangered Species Programme) recommendations. In the wild, male giraffe adopt a roaming strategy, moving between herds looking for reproductive females, which is why males are moved between herds in captivity.
Breeding programmes at the Park
Within the herd at the Park, there are currently two maternal lines - Savannah's and Acacia's. This allows the group to live as a strong bonded herd just as they would out in the wild. Maintaining the correct social environment and structure is important to giraffe, since individuals form strong life-long bonds with maternal relatives that can last many years. Therefore, it was extremely important that this was factored in when planning the house.
The new house provides choice for pregnant females, allowing them to calve with the support of other herd members or to move away and calve in provacy if they want to. Often, individuals will choose to calve with the support of other herd members, especially their siblings and mother.
The breeding of these animals at Woburn Safari Park is managed by the EEP and individuals are matched to ensure gene diversity to ensure that the future conservation of these animals is protected. It is critical that this programme is managed correctly, since unregulated breeding of these animals could have a harmful effect on the species in the long term.
It is hoped that this new giraffe house will signal more beautiful calves at Woburn Safari Park and the expansion of this wonderful herd of endangered giraffe.