The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is happy to announce the arrival of a new addition to its animal family: Demetri, a 21-month-old male giraffe. Demetri arrived in November from the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, Texas. He has spent the last few weeks acclimating to his new environment and becoming familiar with the rest of the giraffe herd: Ellie, 18, and Julu, 3. Zoo guests can generally find Demetri in the giraffe habitat’s outdoor area weather dependent when temperatures are above 50 degrees. Still an adolescent, he is smaller than the two females and has a slightly lighter mane.
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. Demetri’s addition to the Zoo’s animal family is part of an SSP recommendation and will ensure the genetic diversity and growth of our giraffe herd – a true testament to the Zoo’s mission to help conserve this species.
Caretakers note that Demetri is curious and adjusting to his surroundings but has developed a good relationship with Ellie and Julu, looking to them when he’s unsure how to react to new things.
In the last 30 years, wild giraffe populations have declined by 40 percent due to habitat destruction and poaching. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognized that giraffes were in need of conservation action and created the Giraffe SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program. In 2018, 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.