Once you see one, you’ll never forget it. Suspended five feet above the ground, the wire noose hangs, big as a kitchen table. Barely moving in the whispering breeze, the oval trap waits for its next unsuspecting victim. Nearby, a half-dozen cream- and tan-colored creatures browse on acacia leaves 10 feet high in the trees. There is seemingly no social structure or hierarchy among them, just calm camaraderie that comes with being the tallest terrestrial mammals on the planet. Part gangly, part graceful, the giraffes both blend in and stand out on the savanna. In the distance, a cowbell jangles to the scraping song of green-headed sunbirds. Focused on the thicket of leaves, a giraffe steps into the snare and before she can retreat, the wire quickly tightens around her six-foot-long neck. Eyes wide, she bends her neck and kicks at the dust, trying in vain to untangle herself.
San Diego Zoo Global is working to save this (and other) species from extinction. Our animal care staff and conservation scientists’ combined efforts are helping to establish community-based, long-term solutions, as well as assist with raising orphaned giraffe calves. San Diego Zoo started a Giraffe Trackers education program for San Diego middle school kids, thanks to a generous contribution from a board member. Students get the opportunity to do giraffe identification work, similar to what David O’Connor does in the field in Kenya. Additionally, our gift shops sell “Snare Wire Animals” created by people in Africa who choose a sustainable livelihood and recognize a better use for snare wire and the importance of conserving their wildlife. San Diego Zoo Global also provides visitors indelible memories and up-close encounters with animals, including giraffes. These experiences will inspire people to support conservation work and save wildlife for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.