Another one??

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Another one??


Jafira (Photo: Greater Vancouver Zoo)

A third giraffe has died at the famously incompetent Greater Vancouver Zoo in less than one year.  Last November, a female named Eleah and her son, Amryn, died within a week of each other; while ensuing necropsies didn’t reveal the cause, the Vancouver Humane Society noted that as African animals, giraffes are particularly susceptible to cold weather and have been known to die as a result of exposure in the past. (You can read our blog post about it here.)  Jafira, Eleah’s mate and Amryn’s father, was alone in his enclosure until the Greater Vancouver Zoo bought another male giraffe to keep him company.

This Sunday, Jafira died.  He was 12 years old, less than half the lifespan of an average giraffe, captive or wild. Zoo staff, who say that he was “completely healthy”, found him collapsed in his enclosure that morning, and a necropsy is scheduled. I wonder whether if it will be as inconclusive as last years’ were?

In the meantime, what will become of the last giraffe at the Greater Vancouver Zoo?  Will they just buy another one, as they did when Eleah and Amryn died? Ideally, he would be sent to a sanctuary of some sort, assuming there even are sanctuaries that can take giraffes.  (A quick search showed me that there’s at least a couple, but they all seem to be in Kenya.)  And while no zoos are good zoos, some zoos are worse than others: case in point, the Greater Vancouver Zoo.  Perhaps the remaining giraffe could be sent to another facility that has a larger herd of giraffes and a less pathetic track record when it comes to keeping them alive.

I don’t know that there are any easy answers here, but there’s at least one easy solution: don’t support zoos.  They are not the bastions of education and conservation that they claim to be and they do more harm than good.  So if you’re concerned about wild animals–and who isn’t?–skip the zoo and donate the cost of a ticket to a worthy charity that actually works to protect wild animals, rather than just paying lip-service to the idea.  (Be careful not to give your money to groups that claim to care about animals while supporting hunting and trapping and other forms of “wildlife management”, like the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Nature Conservancy.) One particularly great organization that I learned about recently is the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, which protects about 52 wild elephant families, or approximately 1,400 elephants, in Kenya.  They have an annual operating budget of $400,000–some zoos spend that amount to maintain just 4 captive elephants for a year!

Do you have any favourite wildlife charities?  Let us know in the comments!

Update, Nov. 7th: “The BC SPCA says its investigation into the death of a giraffe at the Greater Vancouver Zoo is being hampered because workers refuse to share key information.  SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk said her organization has been forced to seek a warrant to obtain documents the zoo could simply hand over willingly.” (article)

Way to go, GVZ, we certainly couldn’t expect any more from you.

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