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Seasonal and geographical influences on the feeding ecology of giraffes in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia: 1973–2014

Obtaining longitudinal data about the feeding ecology of long-lived iteroparous mammals is rare, but enhances our understanding of how the environment influences niche breadth and dietary diversity within a species. We analysed forty years of feeding records obtained from a population of Thornicroft’s giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti) living in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. Giraffes are browsers that have been reported to feed primarily upon Acacia leaves, but their feeding ecology in some locations conflict with this interpretation. Giraffes in the

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Population census of Thornicroft’s giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti in Zambia, 1973−2003: conservation reassessment required

Thornicroft’s giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti is limited in distribution to a single population resident in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. During 1973 – 2003 regular counts were recorded along the Luangwa River in the core section of the subspecies’ range. In 2013 we conducted a count in the same region for comparison with the earlier survey results. During the 30-year period 1973 – 2003 the giraffe index (no. of individuals per km surveyed) was relatively stable, with an increase in 1994

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Rothschild’s giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi (Linnaeus, 1758) in East Africa: A review of population trends, taxonomy and conservation status

Giraffe populations have suffered a 40% decline in the past thirty years, making them a new priority for conservation and there are considerable uncertainty and disagreement over the taxonomic classification of giraffes. Consequently, there has never been a more critical time to fully understand the global population size and distribution of all giraffe subspecies. The Rothschild’s giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi (Linnaeus, 1758) is arguably one of the most imperilled giraffe subspecies. Once widespread across southern Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, the

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Habitat heterogeneity and social factors drive behavioral plasticity in giraffe herd-size dynamics

Behavioral plasticity, or the mechanism by which an organism can adjust its behavior in response to exogenous change, has been highlighted as a potential buffer against extinction risk. Giraffes (Giraffa spp.) are gregarious, long-lived, highly mobile megaherbivores with a large brain size, characteristics that have been associated with high levels of behavioral plasticity. However, while there has been a recent focus on genotypic variability and morphological differences among giraffe populations, there has been relatively little discussion centered on behavioral flexibility

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Distribution and density of oxpeckers on giraffes in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Oxpeckers (Buphagus sp.) are two bird species closely associated to large mammals, including giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis). We tested whether oxpeckers distributed themselves at random across individuals or aggregated on individual giraffes, and whether birds select the host’s body parts with the expected greatest amount of ticks. By counting oxpeckers on giraffe’s body from photographs, we quantified the distribution of birds per hosts and over predefined zones on the giraffe body. Oxpeckers displayed a strong aggregation behaviour with few hosts carrying

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Testicular disorder of sexual development with cryptorchidism, penile hypoplasia and hypospadias in a giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa)

Disorders of sexual development (DSD) in wild mammals are rarely described. A male South African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) was identified with bilateral cryptorchidism. The testes were intra-abdominal, smaller and less ovoid than in normal male giraffes. The right testis was situated more cranially than the left and connected to a longer deferent duct with normal ampullae. One distended vesicular gland filled with mucoid material was identified. A short penis, situated in the perineal area, was directed caudally and presented

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Forensic species identification of elephant (Elephantidae) and giraffe (Giraffidae) tail hair using light microscopy

Here we present methods for distinguishing tail hairs of African elephants (Loxodonta africana), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) from forensic contexts. Such hairs are commonly used to manufacture jewelry artifacts that are often sold illegally in the international wildlife trade. Tail hairs from these three species are easily confused macroscopically, and morphological methods for distinguishing African and Asian tail hairs have not been published. We used cross section analysis and light microscopy to analyze the tail hair

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Multiple anesthetic events in a reticulated giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis)

A 1-mo-old reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) received repeated immobilizations for treatment of a fractured left metatarsus. Etorphine and xylazine or etorphine and iso-flurane adjunct anesthesia were used for immobilization. During immobilizations, pulse oximetry and end tidal CO₂ measurement were made and correlated with arterial blood gas values. Results of observations made during sequential immobilizations suggest that young giraffe tend to hypoventilate during anesthesia, resulting in significant respiratory acidosis. By monitoring pulse oximetry and end tidal CO₂, periods of hypoventilation and

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Congenital nutritional myodegeneration (white muscle disease) in a giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis) calf

It is well known that vitamin E and selenium deficiencies in domestic ruminants can lead to white muscle disease. After a clinically normal gestation period at Ouwehand Zoo in the Netherlands, a newborn giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) calf showed clinical signs of white muscle disease almost immediately after birth. The calf was rejected by the mother and was euthanized 3 days later because of deterioration of clinical signs. At necropsy, pulmonary edema and pallor of skeletal and heart muscles was noted.

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Effects of Guest Feeding Programs on Captive Giraffe Behavior

Zoological institutions develop human-animal interaction opportunities for visitors to advance missions of conservation, education, and recreation; however, the animal welfare implications have yet to be evaluated. This behavioral study was the first to quantify impacts of guest feeding programs on captive giraffe behavior and welfare, by documenting giraffe time budgets that included both normal and stereotypic behaviors. Thirty giraffes from nine zoos (six zoos with varying guest feeding programs and three without) were observed for three days each, using both

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