In the space of just one week, three giraffes have died at zoos in the Southwest. Zookeepers found Slim, an 18-month-old baby giraffe dead when they showed up for work at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas. After only four months at the Hillcrest Park Zoo in Clovis, New Mexico, a giraffe named Jay was found sick and lying down in his pen and was euthanized. At the Albuquerque BioPark, a 3-year-old giraffe named Renna collapsed without warning and had to be euthanized.
Like bears and elephants, giraffes are particularly ill-suited to life in captivity. How long do giraffes live? In the wild, giraffes have a life expectancy of about 25 years, but they rarely live that long in captivity, where they are highly prone to health problems and injuries. Zoos like to claim that breeding giraffes helps to sustain the population, but many of these animals die as young adults after the zoos have profited from patrons wanting to see the new baby. Even if they survive long enough, no captive giraffes have ever been released into the wild.
Zoos should stop breeding giraffes and close down their giraffe displays, as some reputable zoos are doing with elephants. You can help by refusing to patronize any establishment that breeds and displays captive exotic animals.
Written by Michelle Sherrow