The animal with longest neck was the star of events on the longest day of the year at the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
The towering beauty of the giraffes came into sharp focus with games, competitions and chances to learn more about one of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom.
Tuesday, June 21, was World Giraffe Day and part of a week with a TV show and events around the globe to raise awareness of the plight of the species whose numbers have dwindled to below 90,000
The four YWP giraffes, including Jambo a critically endangered Rothschild giraffe, lapped up the attention from visitors, on June 21st which is usually the longest day of the year –though this year as a Leap Year the summer solstice fell on June 20th.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation is supporting the efforts of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), which is dedicated to protecting giraffe habitat and running conservation projects. YWPF is supporting campaigns to provide £70,000 desperately needed to protect at risk herds in Kenya and Namibia.
“We are very proud of the giraffes here at the park and know that visitors are constantly amazed by their size and grace but they are in danger and we need to work hard to protect them,” said YWPF CEO Cheryl Williams,
“We are keen to do our bit for the GCF cause and hope the public will help with donations as they get close to the giraffes and learn more about them ”
Expert YWP keepers were on hand to talk about the giraffes at their 16-acre reserve and display a giraffe skull, hoof print and pictures of the animals A raffle was also organised with special prizes to help boost GCF.
YWP’s youngest two giraffes, Palle and Jengo, are Reticulated giraffes whose numbers have declined by almost 80% over the last 30 years to just 8,600 in the wild due to illegal hunting and habitat loss There are believed to be fewer than 1100 Rothschild’s Giraffe, like Jambo left in the wild.
Funds raised at the park will go directly to community-based schemes in Kenya to help preserve the numbers of Reticulated Giraffes by mapping herd movements so that they can be protected and supported. Field research will provide vital information to establish effective conservation programmes.
Experts say even small donations can be vital with £15 paying for the batteries for a GPS device to monitor a giraffe’s movements and £150 covering a local field ranger’s salary for a month.
A BBC documentary by Sir David Attenborough which will be shown on Thursday highlights their plight and in which the naturalist comments “these gentle giants have been overlooked” and have become extinct in seven African countries.
The YWPF was founded in 2013 with the aim to promote and advance the conservation and welfare of endangered wildlife both in their natural habitat and in captivity and to educate and inspire the animal lovers.
The charity has been central to a variety of international initiatives to help save a range of at risk species including Amur Leopards and Tigers, Polar Bears, Lions in the wild and the Painted Dog.