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Rothschild's and Reticulated Giraffes

Rothschild's and Reticulated Giraffes
jbnbsn99, 1 Dec 2009
    • jbnbsn99
      While it was interesting to see the two species together, I would rather have seen them focus on just a single species and not try and hybridize the endangered giraffes.
    • Buckeye092
      Unfortunately, as of late, the Giraffe TAG doesnt care about managing giraffe breeding. All "reticulated" and "rothschild's" giraffes in captivity are hybrids between the two. The only pure subspecies is the Masai, and there are several recommendations that I know of where the Masai male or female is allowed to breed with the other hybrids.

      I think the TAG knows giraffes aren't in captivity for conservation so they are allowing any breeding. Which is obviously utterly ridiculous.
    • jbnbsn99
      Such a shame that the TAG doesn't take this into account. It seems that both the Rothschild's and Reticulated (as well as the West African) giraffes are all endangered, some critically so.
    • Ituri
      The latest San Diego Zoonooz magazine says that the International Giraffe Group (what is that? a part of IUCN or something?) is recommending against hybridizing known rothschilds and reticulateds. The question remains though, when the genetic testing was done that showed that reticulateds and rothschilds in US zoos were genetically indistinguishable, did they test EVERY AZA giraffe? I would think some had the pedigree to be pure, right?
    • jbnbsn99
      The whole giraffe situation is a mess right now. I think a large portion of the Rothschild's and Reticulateds are hybrids. The problem is coming from the new research saying that the griaffe subspecies aren't subspecies at all, but rather at least 6 species (maybe 9-11) and several of those are endangered including Retics and Roths. I foresee with giraffes the same thing that has happened with tigers by going to a strict SSP management program.
    • Buckeye092
      Personally, I would like to create subspecies specific SSP's and screen the entire captive US population. Find the pure-breds and let the hybrids die off. We could always import genes from Europe or the wild if the founders group for each subspecies was too small.
    • jbnbsn99
      I wish that could be done.
    • Arizona Docent
      I didn't know there were ever that many Rothchild's in the U.S. I thought SD Wild Animal Park was the only place that had them. So I thought all reticulateds (including the three at my zoo) were pure. This is very surprising indeed. I do know that many years ago, Busch Gardens imported an entire herd of wild caught reticulateds from Kenya (I think it was Kenya, but if it was a neighboring country, still wild caught and pureblooded).

      As for them being distinct species instead of subspecies, I would doubt it. Of course I have no scientific expertise to back up that claim, just a hunch based on their similar appearance. Still, I agree with others even as subspecies they should be carefully managed and kept distinct.
    • Ituri
    • Arizona Docent
      Thanks Ituri. The Giraffe SSP article (attached as a .pdf file) is particularly interesting. As for the BBC link, I am a bit confused. The only reason they seem to site for full species is isolation and lack of crossbreeding. But I thought these were requirements for subspecies classification? What's the difference?
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    Oklahoma City Zoo
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