Catering for animal welfare, conservation, and entertainment in a zoo is a great deal of work for animal conservatists as well as attendants. However, these functions may get into a conflict due to each of the factors requiring consideration. Animal welfare must be catered for in order to keep the animals healthy and in good condition.
Since most of today’s species are endangered including the African Giraffe, conservation efforts need to be put into consideration without conflicting the need for entertainment by the visitors to the zoo. However, in good consideration of these issues, proximity and human interactions with the animals need to be avoided in an effort to reduce stress to the animals. In respect to this, the visitors to the zoos feel restricted to observe the animals closely which results in a conflict of interest between the zoo keepers and the visitors. It is thus a requirement for the zoo’s management to cater for the needs of the animals to enjoy a free and natural environment, the visitors to closely observe the animals, and the zoo keepers and management to cater for the animals needs.
The enclosures in which such animals are placed for viewing should be well-designed to cater for all these aspects. In the context of this analysis, the management and design of the enclosure of the African Giraffewill be analyzed putting into consideration the needs of the animal, the visitors, and the zoo management and workers. This analysis gives a description of my one day visit to the Adelaide Zoo.
Day One: Evaluating the Giraffe Enclosure
The enclosure made for the giraffes at the zoo was evaluated noting the different features that cater for the needs of the animal, zoo keepers, and the visitors.
The enclosure shown above depicts the view from the outside which was analysed during the tour. The background represents the natural section of the enclosure where there are tall trees to match the giraffes’ heights and provide them with a natural environment where they can rest and carry out their natural activities including running, walking, playing, and even mating.
In addition, as wild animals, the giraffes are provided with a natural scene where they can feel comfortable with nature. The tall brown building represents a comfortable place where the giraffes can rest especially at night to cover themselves from the night cold as well as from predators including lions which are a major threat to the giraffes. In an attempt to allow a good view to the visitors, the fence to the enclosure are made of only two bars of wood with posts placed at regular intervals.
This construction allows enough space for the zoo visitors to have a clear view of the animals especially as they walk out from their sleep-house as well as when they walk in from the natural ground outside the fence to be fed by the management with other types of food excluding the leaves and branches they gather from the field. There are tall trees within the compound to add on to the comfort of the giraffes even in situations where they relax within the compound.
The ground is covered with sand, which acts as a soft ground for the animals to walk on. This is aimed to take care of their hooves as well as to make it comfortable for the animals in situations where they lay on such a ground.
Day Two: Evaluating the Nature of the African Giraffe
The key features of the giraffe were observable from the animals’ viewpoint while more information was gathered through talks with the tour guides in the zoo. During this part of the day, different aspects concerning the African Giraffe were evaluated.
The natural habitat for giraffes is important for their survival, comfort, and health in different ways. Giraffes are usually found in open woodlands where they can easily access their food from the trees’ leaves and soft branches. Wooded grasslands are also a good ground for breeding giraffes which offers a good reason for a high number of giraffes in Africa especially south of the Sahara Desert.
Such a natural habitat highly favors the survival and breeding of giraffes due to a number of factors. The grass in such an environment is a good ground for the animals to rest especially when they are not standing. Since the giraffes rarely feed on grass, the woodlands especially characterized by thorny trees including the acacia provide a good source of feeds for the animals owing to their height.
In addition, grassy woodlands usually have scattered trees which are helpful in detecting enemies from far. Such a natural habitat has to be provided in a zoo to cater for the animals’ health and comfort. In addition, the habitat needs to be in congruence to the behavior of these animals in order to enable their long term growth and survival, and the ability to leave a line of generations to curb their extinction.
The height of the giraffe ranges between 5 and 6 meters for a male, and 4 to 6 meters for a female. This height has to be catered for in the natural habitat of the animals. This is evidence of the survival of the giraffes in open grasslands with scattered trees. The sleep requirements for the giraffe are the shortest for any other mammal, which averages to approximately 1 to 2 hours per day. As such, the giraffes spend most of their time in the field feeding, playing, and relaxing.
In order to sleep, the giraffe usually lies down, with its head and neck lying across its flanks. It can also sleep while standing up in short periods of time. The posture of the giraffe when sleeping requires a wide area in order to comfortably relax in its sleep. The most unique feature for the giraffe is the pattern on their coat. The pattern is unique for each and every giraffe. The color of the coat may change with age, while the pattern remains the same throughout the giraffe’s life.
As the giraffe grows in age, the pattern on the coat may change, becoming darker with time to a dark brown color getting almost black. Another unique feature of the giraffe is its elongated neck. The giraffe’s vertebrae are subdivided like that of most other mammals though its sub-parts are bigger in size and stronger to support its body weight. In order to survive with such a tall and unstable body structure, the giraffe has a complex pressure-controlling system that prevents excess flow of blood to the legs.
The pressure-system ensures that the brain is supplied with sufficient blood especially when standing up and also ensures that excessive blood do not flow to the brain when the animal lowers its elongated neck to drink water. Their long legs are covered with a thick skin with their lower limbs being shorter and more muscular than the fore limbs. The lower limbs are usually efficient in attacking a predator and running away from the predators.
The giraffe exhibits different behaviors in the wild which are similar to those of other wild animals. The giraffe is polygamous with all the fertile female giraffes mating with just a small number of males in the herd. The males in a herd usually protect the females from attack by males from other herds and predators.
The males usually detect their mates’ fertility usually by tasting such females’ urine. After mating during the mating season, the gestation period usually takes approximately 15 months. The females give birth while standing up since during such an ordeal the front legs of the young one are long enough to almost touch the ground. The young giraffe goes through the lactation period within 9 months after which it starts exploring adult food from low tree branches. The lifespan of a giraffe normally ranges between 25 and 30 years. Due to harsh conditions in the wild, the giraffe may have a shorter lifespan.
The giraffe usually enriches itself in the wild by accessing the nutrients required by the body especially from green and soft branches and leaves. The giraffe’s tongue is highly essential in the process of feeding from the tall trees. Its upper jaw does not have the front teeth, with the muscular upper lip helping to rip off leaves from the trees. Freshly browsed leaves, seedpods, shoots, fruits, and flowers compose the giraffes’ main food in the wild.
Different aspects that affect the manner in which animals stay in the zoo were analyzed during the tour to the zoo. The design of structures meant to shelter animals highly influences satisfaction to different parties. It is essential that the animals’ welfare be catered for to enable them experience a wild or a near-wild scene. This adds up to the efforts by the zoo keepers to conserve the animals for future generations.
The visitors to the zoo should be equally catered for in order to create value for their visit through a thorough entertainment. Ensuring such a structure that does not conflict the interest of any of the parties associated including the animals themselves, the zoo keepers, and the visitors, enables a viable animal life conservation strategy. To attract visitors to the zoo, the experience gained should be both educational and entertaining.