Could giraffes be facing extinction? St. Louis Zoo expert addresses concern

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ST. LOUIS – Two subspecies of giraffes are being listed as critically endangered for the first time by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Not just a tall tale, Kordofan and Nubian subspecies of giraffe are critically endangered.

Only 4,000 are left in the wild, just a stage away from being extinct.

“Having two of them classified as critically endangered is a pretty significant step,” says Tim Thier, Zoological Manager of Ungulates, St. Louis Zoo.  “Reticulated also came out as endangered.  So, there are other ways the AZA with a program called SAFE, saving animals from extinction. Giraffes have their own SAFE program.  So there's a number of zoos working together to save giraffes.”

But reticulated giraffes like these three that live at the St. Louis Zoo are being listed as endangered.

A silent extinction of giraffes is something the St. Louis Zoo has been working against here in Forest Park through their species survival plan with the American Zoological Association, and abroad in Kenya.

“These are reticulated giraffes found in Kenya and Ethiopia,” says Thier.  “So, this is an endangered species of giraffe so that means it`s a little more critical.  We've worked with this species of giraffe since the 1930s here at the zoo.”

Tim Thier, the zoological manager at the St. Louis Zoo took a trip overseas, working to help save a species.

“I was able to go to Kenya and work on the great Gravis rally which is the second national census of gray zebra and this year we included reticulated giraffe for the first time,” says Thier.  “So, it`s a citizen science project where people from around the world went to Kenya to do a photographic census of zebras and giraffes and their patterns are unique, like fingerprints.”

And they'll continue working to save patterns on giraffes like these, for future generations.


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