Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Captive-bred Giraffe Struggles in Canadian Zoo

Another controversial breeding of a wild animal. This time it's a baby giraffe bred at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Apparently, he had to be separated from his mother and is being fed by zoo staff, spurring criticism from animal welfare groups.

Doesn't sound like a great zoo though. The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums stripped its accreditation in 2004. Yikes!

The giraffe, born at the Aldergrove facility Dec. 20 to 18-year-old Eleah, has maintained a fairly steady weight and is standing on its own, {Zoo representative Jody} Henderson said. After failing to feed from its mother, the two were separated. The baby is now being cared for by a veterinarian and zoo staff.

Critics say the calf's plight furthers their argument that there is no good reason to breed giraffes in captivity.

Debra Probert, executive director of the Vancouver Humane Society, said the only reason she can think of is that baby animals are "a money-maker."

There is no conservationist justification, as there is no release program in place, said Rob Laidlaw, executive director of Zoocheck Canada, a national wildlife protection organization.

Animals that breed in captivity often don't have the mothering skills necessary to care for a baby, he added.

This calf is the second in two years born to Eleah. Her previous baby died of pneumonia after eight days.

{Zoo representative Jody} Henderson said the zoo did not intentionally breed this calf, which was fathered by six-year-old Jafari.

"We just let nature take its course," Henderson said.

The Greater Vancouver Zoo has a history of controversy with regard to animal welfare.

Probert said the zoo does not have appropriate resources to properly breed animals, calling it "one of the worst facilities in Canada for wildlife."

Last year, two counts of cruelty to animals were laid against the zoo when the SPCA alleged it kept Hazina, a baby hippopotamus, alone in a dark shed for 19 months. The charges were later stayed after a new enclosure was built for the animal.

In 2004, the zoo was stripped of its accreditation by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which sets standards for wildlife facilities in the country.

Photo by mailmandan.

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