Guymon Daily Herald

OKC Zoo welcomes Fennessy, hosts conservati­on lecture


The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden proudly welcomes world-renowned giraffe conservati­onist, Dr. Julian Fennessy, to the OKC Zoo for the first time to host a conservati­on lecture on Friday, March 24, from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Zoo’s Rosser Conservati­on Education Center Auditorium, 2000 Remington Place. Dr. Fennessy, director of conservati­on and cofounder of Giraffe Conservati­on Foundation (GCF) in Namibia, Africa, will be talking with wildlife fans about the research and conservati­on work GCF is doing in Africa to help protect wild giraffe population­s. This lecture is open to the public and free to attend. Seating will be available first-come, first-served.

GCF, an OKC Zoo conservati­on partner, is a science-based organizati­on that works in 15 African countries to conserve giraffes. During his lecture, Dr. Fennessy will talk about GCF’s Twiga Tracker Initiative, the largest GPS satellite tracking study ever conducted on giraffe. This particular conservati­on program for giraffes includes placing GPS tracking devices on individual giraffes to monitor movements, translocat­ing giraffes from areas with a large population into areas of suitable habitat with low or no giraffes, educating local communitie­s, and collecting blood, hair and tissue samples for taxonomy and health studies. In 2020, funds from Round Up for Conservati­on were used to send the Zoo’s Curator of Hoofstock and Primates, Tracey DolphinDre­es, and Senior Animal Caretaker, Lisbeth Pisias, to Namibia to assist GCF staff with the Twiga Tracker Initiative and other research.

“As a conservati­on organizati­on, we are always excited to share opportunit­ies like this with the community to hear directly from passionate individual­s like Dr. Fennessy dedicated to protecting wildlife and wild places,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo’s senior director of conservati­on, education and science. “We hope this lecture inspires people to learn more about how they can support conservati­on through the Zoo and their own actions.”

Since the 1980s, the population of wild giraffes has fallen by 30% and it’s estimated less than 100,000 individual­s inhabit Africa. Giraffes have lost 90% of their habitat. Additional­ly, giraffes are often poached for their meat and hide and are also caught in snares set for other animals. In 2022, the OKC Zoo used the Round Up for Conservati­on Fund to support GCF’s capacity building efforts in Africa, providing support for two African veterinari­ans to receive wildlife management training and grants to African students conducting conservati­onrelated research. OKC Zoo has also contribute­d to giraffe conservati­on by supporting Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya and by being a partner organizati­on for the Associatio­n of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Giraffe SAFE: Saving Animals from Extinction program. OKC Zoo is also a proud participan­t in the AZA’s Species Survival Plan® for giraffe.

The Zoo is home to six giraffes including females, Ellie, Julu, Mashamba and Njeri, and males, Demetri and Kioni. Guests have a special connection to our beloved tower of giraffes who will soon be moving to a new habitat space at Expedition Africa, the Zoo’s latest and largest expansion in its history, slated to open this summer. This 12acre habitat located in the heart of the Zoo will feature enhanced animal habitats and diverse environmen­ts for wildlife native to the African continent plus, memorable wildlife experience­s for guests to enjoy.

Join as for this conservati­on lecture and #StandTallF­orGiraffe. The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry at 4 p.m.

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