Giraffes In The News, By Naomi Kanin

Life In Exile nr. 35 by Jens Haas
Life In Exile nr. 35 by Jens Haas

Here’s an update for everyone out there who shares my love for giraffes, from your fearless reporter on animal news. Giraffes made it into the news at least three times recently.

In 2014, social media picked up an incident that wasn’t intended as news at all. Copenhagen zoo killed and cut to pieces a giraffe who wasn’t deemed suitable for breeding, feeding it to other animals. Controversy ensued, covering, on the side of the zoo’s director, arguments about the giraffe’s genes, and on the side of others, outrage.

The incident stayed with me, since it seemed unclear who had won the dispute. Now, two years later, there’s an unexpected twist. It’s been discovered that the kind of animal we call giraffe is not that: not a kind of animal. It’s four kinds! If that’s true, and there are four or more separate species, as researchers now think, there are fewer of each species than there were thought to be, in total, of the presumed unified kind. And that may change their conservation status. From ranking rather low—a species of “least concern”—some or all of the newly determined species may count as endangered. I can’t recall ever being happy about an animal making it on the list of endangered species, but here’s a way to make it on the list that doesn’t seem to come with the usual downsides…

The third bit of news is so lovely, it almost makes you forget the dire fate of other zoo-dwellers…