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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A who’s who of the herd for World Giraffe Day

Posted by: Katie Ahl, Zookeeper

This World Giraffe Day, coming up June 21, stick your neck out for these amazing animals by coming to visit them at Woodland Park Zoo. Here you can meet our four giraffe up close during the Giraffe Feeding Experience or watch them wander our African Savanna among zebra and oryx. Then talk to one of our keepers or volunteers about how Woodland Park Zoo and you can help save giraffe in Africa.

Zookeeper Katie Ahl with giraffes Olivia, left, and Dave, right. Photo by Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo.

A Who's Who

Here’s a who’s who of our giraffe and how to tell them apart by their spots.

Olivia. Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo.

Olivia is 8 years old and the mother of our little guy, Misawa. She has been an excellent first time mom to Misawa and is very independent. She is lighter in color and has several spots above each eye. She also has a cool crown spot on her right shoulder. Her ossicones (horns) are smooth and slender.

Tufani up close. Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo.

Tufani is almost 7 years old (her birthday is July 8!) and she is the sister to Olivia and aunt to Misawa. Tufani has a lot more sass to her personality but when it comes down to it she is really sweet.

She is darker than Olivia and has some spots that are almost black in color. The top of her head has a lot more brown and her ossicones are bald on top and look messy. It always looks like she has bed head.

Misawa and zebra Obi. Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo.

Misawa is almost 2 years old. He was born at Woodland Park Zoo on August 6, 2013. You can call him Misawa but he probably won’t answer; he responds better to his nickname CJ. He is the lightest in color and can easily be picked out by the white spots within his brown spots. CJ also has two triangle spots that make a diamond high up on the right side of his neck and if you look just right he has a C-shaped spot on the right side of his hip.

Dave hungers for a treat during the Giraffe Feeding Experience. Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo.

And then there’s Dave. He is 2 ½ years old and our newest giraffe to join the herd. He came to us in 2014 from Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. He is very mellow and sweet. He’ll do most anything for his favorite treat, a leaf eater biscuit. Dave is dark brown with a lot of brown on his face. He has a circle spot on the left side of his neck and his ossicones are already bigger and thicker than Olivia’s and Tufani’s. Male giraffe tend to have very thick ossicones and lumpy foreheads. 

The zoo’s herd of four gets along very well. Can you tell them apart? Photo by Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo.

Now that you have the who’s who guide, can you tell which giraffe is which in this photograph? We won’t give away the answer, but here’s a hint: Our Dearest Many Thanks for reading this blog.

Photo by Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Identifying individuals can be tricky. It takes close observation of their distinctions. This is exactly the kind of challenging work the Giraffe Conservation Foundation researchers are doing out in the field to create a long-term ecological study for wild giraffe populations. This work is foundational to conservation strategies, and it is supported by Woodland Park Zoo’s Wildlife Survival Fund

Every time you visit the zoo, you help make this conservation work possible. Our four giraffe are great ambassadors to giraffe in the wild. One lick from that slimy tongue and you’ll be amazed by their beauty and grace (and slobber).  

Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo.

In the fall, Misawa/CJ will move to another zoo to start a family of his own as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program among conservation zoos. So make a point of coming to see him for World Giraffe Day, and definitely get your visit in before the end of the summer to enjoy the up close feeding experience. See you there!

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