COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Only about 98,000 giraffes are left in the wild.
Animal experts say the population’s seen a 40 percent decrease over the last 30 years.
“The population decline is entirely due to man-made impacts. So, a lot of it is habitat fragmentation, but a lot of it’s also illegal hunting that’s happening around Africa,” said Dr. Liza Dadone, a veterinarian and vice president of Mission and Programs for Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
The International Union For The Conservation Of Nature recently reviewed population data, and learned giraffes are a lot closer to extinction than they originally thought.
They’ve moved the species status up from least concern to now vulnerable, which is just behind endangered.
“The hardest thing is thinking of your kids not being able to.. I don’t know. That they wouldn’t be in the wild anymore, only in zoos or anything like that. It’s really, really sad,” said Sarah Linehan, a zoo visitor.
“We don’t want them to stay, ‘what’s a giraffe?'” said Karin Labor, another zoo visitor.
Experts say giraffes are now extinct in 7 countries.
Now Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is hoping more will be done to save the species.
“Up until this official listing it was just a few scientists and biologists going around and telling people about these scary numbers. And zoos were starting to also try to spread the word about giraffe, but having an official organization like the IUCN actually do the science and confirm what we think we’re seeing, really adds strength to our argument that we need to do something really quickly,” Dadone said.
Each time you visit Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, you help in conservation.
A total of 75 cents of each visit is put towards conservation efforts.
Zoo officials say in the last 8 years, more than $1 million has been raised.