First thing every morning the ungulate keepers at Taronga Zoo join forces and clean the Giraffe paddock. This is the only exhibit that requires all the ungulate keepers to work together as the giraffe produce many, many small droppings that are spread out over a large area. Giraffe poo is surprisingly small because they are ruminants, which means that they have a multi-chambered stomach, similar to cows, sheep and goats. Giraffe are specialist leaf eaters and are known to eat over 100 different types of leaves in the wild, so they need this digestive system to help break down all the cellulose in their leafy diet. This is why the tallest animals on earth produce poo that’s no bigger than a small pebble.
Giraffe are divided into nine sub-species, all of which live in Africa. As an entire species, giraffe numbers have fallen by about 40% in the last 15 years, with two of the sub-species being listed as endangered by the IUCN. World Giraffe Day is an international campaign to raise awareness for giraffe conservation, with this year’s efforts focusing on the endangered Rothschild giraffe. This campaign is fronted by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation who are raising funds to safeguard the future of this endangered sub-species of giraffe, of which there are fewer than 1,100 left in the wild. Visit www.worldgiraffeday.org to find out more about giraffe conservation and how you can help.