Ketara, the Oklahoma City Zoo’s 20-month-old male giraffe, is getting ready to move to his new zoo home at Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska where he will be part of a new herd. The OKC Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative, long-term management program designed to maintain genetically viable and geographically stable populations of specific species. Ketara’s care team reports that, as he is reaching maturity, his transfer results from an SSP breeding recommendation.
Born on December 5, 2016, Ketara (Ket) was the 55th giraffe calf born at the Zoo since the first recorded birth in 1965. Ket is described by his caretakers as curious and playful and “becoming more independent by the day”. He is a very social animal who loves browse leaves and carrots.
Ket, who is just under 12-feet tall, will be transported in a special trailer that is 13.5-feet tall. His mom, Ellie, 18, and sister, Julu, 3, will remain at the Zoo.
Later this fall, the Zoo will welcome another male giraffe! This addition to our animal family will ensure the genetic diversity and growth of our giraffe herd – a true testament to the Zoo’s mission to help conserve giraffes.
In the last 30 years, wild giraffe populations have declined by 40 percent due to habitat destruction and poaching. The AZA recognized that giraffes were in need of conservation action and created the Giraffe SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program in 2017. This year, the OKC Zoo joined 15 other AZA members to become a Giraffe SAFE partner. Giraffe SAFE partners commit to providing annual financial support for giraffe conservation programs in Africa and promote public awareness about the plight of wild giraffes. The Zoo has been contributing to giraffe conservation since 2009 by supporting Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya. This organization establishes community conservancies, helping local people to manage grazing land to reduce competition between livestock and wildlife. This increases the habitat available for giraffes.
--Tyler Boyd, curator of carnivores & hoofstock