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Bristol Zoo Project hosts world leading giraffe care conference in European first

Posted on: 9 November, 2023

Bristol Zoo Project is bringing together giraffe keepers from around the world as part of a major training event to help zoos provide the highest standards of care for the animals.

In a European first, the zoo will be hosting world renowned animal care experts from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe, in North America.

It’s the first time the group has led workshops and training sessions outside of the US.

The four-day International Giraffe Care Conference will focus on best practice and care for giraffes that are in our zoos throughout the world. It will look at a number of topics, including nutrition and foraging, hoof care, health and behaviour.

The event is being run in collaboration with the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which leads a Hoofstock Focus Group, to look at the latest research in nutrition and welfare.

Bristol Zoo Project is home to three male Endangered reticulated giraffes. As part of its international conservation projects, the Society works with local partners to conserve the Critically Endangered Kordofan giraffe in the Bénoué National Park in Northern Cameroon. Illegal hunting and mining are among the threats facing the species and the Society has been supporting patrols by introducing eco-guards to monitor illegal activities, creating transport infrastructure (roads) to enable better access to the park by conservationists, and conducting wildlife surveys to monitor species numbers.

Bristol Zoological Society’s Curator of Mammals, Will Walker, said: “This is a fantastic event for us to be hosting at Bristol Zoo Project, as we are bringing together people from all over the world, who are caring for giraffes every day.

“Having some of the world’s experts on giraffe care here in Bristol, to share such valuable experience and knowledge, will bring so many benefits to the teams attending. We are all incredibly passionate and committed to providing the best possible standards of welfare for the giraffes in our care, and this event will help us to continue to build on that.

“As a conservation and education charity, Bristol Zoological Society works in nine countries across four continents, to conserve and protect some of the world’s most threatened species. Our work in Cameroon highlights the issues facing giraffes in the wild and the vital importance of the breeding populations in zoos such as Bristol Zoo Project.”

Amy Schilz, Senior Animal Behaviourist at the International Center for the Care and Conservation of the Giraffe said: “We are grateful to Bristol Zoo Project’s team for inviting us to host this workshop and for continuing to prioritize giraffe care by dedicating this time to focus, learn and collaborate.”

Two giraffe looking at the camera in front of trees.

“When we unite through workshops like this one, we can all share our individual experiences and expertise in one big melting pot of ideas, and we see improvements for giraffe care in leaps and bounds. When we work together, we can do more to improve care for giraffe all over the world – and that’s the real goal of everyone at this workshop.”

The conference takes place from Monday 6 November until Thursday 9 November.