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Twelve and Kumi in giraffe habitat

Twelve traverses the veldt with Kumi.

The time has come to say goodbye to Twelve, our treasured two-year-old Masai giraffe. Early next week, she will be transported to the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. Like our Zoo, the Wilds is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA); this means its animal care standards meet or exceed the world’s strictest regulations.

The keepers have been training Twelve for the past several months to prepare her for this journey. Giraffe are often intimidated by new things, so familiarizing them with crates and other aspects of transportation mitigates the stress associated with a move.

Twelve was recommended to breed as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a carefully managed population management strategy that aims to maintain genetic diversity among AZA-accredited facilities. SSPs are in place for hundreds of species and subspecies, and we’ve made significant contributions to those for jaguars, Visayan warty pigs and red-legged seriemas, to name a few.

This move comes at a critical time for Masai giraffe. In the past three decades, their numbers have declined by more than 50% due to habitat loss, human hunting and lengthy droughts.

Born here on November 30, 2015 to mother Johari and father Rafiki, Twelve is beloved by keepers for her trusting personality. Though we’ll miss her dearly, we know she’ll be in good hands, and we’re excited she’s helping to ensure the survival of giraffe for generations to come!