Giraffe Welfare Project
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Giraffe Welfare Project

So right now were working on a project called the giraffe welfare project. It’s being run out of Brookfield zoo in Chicago. It’s to compare the giraffe welfare from being outside in the summer for most of the day to being inside a barn for most of the winter. There are a lot of components to this study. One of the major things is we put an accelerometer on our giraffe. We put that around the bottom of their foot. It’s just in a band. It’s connected by Velcro. That will stay on there for 24 hours and this helps measure recumbencey or when the giraffe is relaxed or laying down. We also videotape our giraffe twice a day 15 minutes each time so they will be able to gather data on how they are behaving throughout those recordings. Then we also collect fecal samples and then through those fecal samples they’ll do hormone testing to see stress hormones and things like that. So to get the Fitbit on we have a footwork door in our barn. So we’ll raise that door up, get the giraffe in the right position, and then we’ll put their foot on a block where we can manipulate the foot, ask for touch, and we’ll be able to put the band on them for 24 and get the data they need. So we put the Fitbit on once a week for four weeks. We do the study for a month. We’re doing it for the month of February to study their winter holding. Then we’ll also do the study again in August to study when they’re on exhibit and out in the summer. There are multiple zoos working on this study. It’s primarily in northern zoos because we have animals that are out on exhibit during the summer and then in the winter they’re primarily inside because it’s too cold for them to be out. The ultimate goal of the study is to not only compare when the giraffe are out on exhibit in the summer to when they’re primarily inside in the winter, it’s also to hopefully determine if there are any welfare problems how we can possibly fix them.

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