COLORADO SPRINGS — Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has established a first-of-its-kind giraffe training, knowledge-sharing, and giraffe emergency response program.

Known as the International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe, the center is an effort to consolidate resources and expand educational programs to improve the lives of giraffe in human care, while also helping with the conservation of wild giraffe.

The goals of the International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe are:

  1. Improve the quality of veterinary care available for giraffe and use that information for field conservation.
  2. Continue to advance behavioral husbandry practices to improve giraffe welfare.
  3. Establish Emergency Response Teams worldwide to respond to giraffe health emergencies and field conservation needs.

“We have a long history of caring for a large herd of prolific, interactive giraffe that participate in daily guest feedings, weekly hoof care, and a wide variety of trained voluntary husbandry and medical procedures,” said Amy Schilz, a Senior Animal Behaviorist. “With this new program, we can help giraffe all over the world get that same level of care.”

CMZoo’s giraffe herd has participated in voluntary husbandry training for a decade and has seen over 200 calf births. Giraffe at CMZoo voluntarily participate in training for injections, blood draws, x-rays, eye exams, hoof care, and more.

“Giraffe are incredibly smart,” said Schilz. “Our whole herd voluntarily participates in their own hoof care. We ask them to come to the training panel where they raise their leg to rest their hoof on a block. Then we can trim, file or x-ray their hoof while we give them lots of rye crackers. It’s incredibly fulfilling as a trainer, and I’m excited to be able to share these methods with even more giraffe lovers through this new Center.”