Detroit Zoological Society to host celebration June 21 at Detroit Zoo
The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) has a leg up on all the summer happenings and is kicking things off with a celebration of World Giraffe Day on Friday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Detroit Zoo’s Giraffe Encounter.
Zookeeper talks at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. will highlight not only the behavior of these iconic African animals, but also their plight in the wild and conservation efforts underway to preserve the species.
“Giraffe populations have plummeted in the wild,” said Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer. “There is growing concern due to poaching, loss of habitat and the impacts of war and civil unrest on wildlife in many parts of Africa.”
The Giraffe Encounter, an elevated platform overlooking the animals’ habitat, will be open for photo opportunities throughout the day. With the vantage point of these 18-foot-tall creatures, visitors will be able to view reticulated giraffes Kivuli, 9, Jabari, 11, and Mpenzi, 4, in their recently expanded habitat, as well as the zebras and wildebeests in the habitat just to the north. One hundred visitors will also have the opportunity to feed these long-necked creatures at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at a cost of $5; tickets can be purchased at the booth just inside the main entrance and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fun learning elements will be incorporated into the celebration as guests explore the nine sub-species of giraffes and the threats they face in the wild. Large images of giraffe silhouettes will help develop observation skills as guests draw individual patterns and markings. In addition, a giant birthday card for female giraffe, Kivuli, who is turning 10 on June 19, will be available for guests to sign.
The giraffe habitat recently underwent a dramatic transformation, thanks to a $1.25 million gift from Cynthia and Edsel Ford. In addition to the expansion of their outdoor yard, the animals’ indoor area is now more than double the size of their previous space and large enough for the entire herd to be together during the colder months. Windows and skylights were incorporated to provide more sunlight and fresh air when the animals are indoors, and a natural substrate was used for the flooring, which is good for the giraffes’ feet and joints.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared giraffes officially in danger of extinction in 2016. Giraffe numbers have decreased in the wild by more than 40 percent in recent decades, resulting in the species moving to the “Vulnerable” category on the IUCN Red List.
The Detroit Zoological Society – a renowned leader in humane education, wildlife conservation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability – operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center. With an annual regional economic impact of more than $167 million, the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is one of Michigan’s largest paid family attractions, hosting more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Its 125 acres of award-winning naturalistic habitats are home to 2,400 animals representing 235 species. The Belle Isle Nature Center sits on a 5-acre site surrounded by undisturbed forested wetlands on Belle Isle State Park in Detroit. It provides year-round educational, recreational and environmental conservation opportunities for the community. For hours, prices, directions and other information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit detroitzoo.org.
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