Aspects of Female Giraffe Reproduction: Review and Update


Giraffes belong to Africa´s iconic mammals and are amongst the most popular zoo animals. 0However, few visitors realize that there are at least six genetically distinct (sub) species of giraffes, of which two are already classified endangered due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Each of these endangered giraffe populations count less than a thousand individuals in the wild. Therefore, the role of zoological facilities for the conservation of giraffes is increasingly important. For successful reproductive management of our captive population, knowledge on the reproduction physiology is inevitable. Also the introduction of assisted reproduction technology (ART) may play a role in future breeding programs to overcome genetic bottlenecks as well as the problems associated with live animal transfers. At first glance, breeding giraffes in captivity appears to be relatively free of difficulty [European Endangered Species Program (EEP) studbook data: (Damen, 2009)]. The current captive population is estimated to be around 2000-2500 animals outside Africa (Damen, 2008). Exact numbers are problematic to obtain as reporting is not obligatory for zoological institutions. Not seldom, the classification of giraffes was neglected resulting in a great proportion of hybrids, although nine subspecies were proposed (Ansell et al., 1968; Dagg & Foster, 1982; Table 1). Two relatively recent genetic studies that were carried out on mRNA, suggested that we may need to regard the different giraffes even as separate species (Brown et al., 2007; Hassanin et al., 2007). These authors suggested six distinct giraffe species (Brown et al., 2007; Fennessy & Brown 2008; Table 1).

Publish DateApril 24, 2021
Last UpdatedApril 24, 2021