Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Future of the Rothchild Giraffe

Giraffes have been a favorite animal of mine ever since I was little, and I always liked their long necks, graceful nature, and spotted pattern. Unfortunately, these animals are also on the decline in population numbers because of hunting and lack of space and foliage because of the growth of the human population. I along with others do not want to see these animals die because they are wonderful creatures that add diversity to the world, but if more measures are not taken, then giraffes may be gone in the future.

However, thanks to the efforts of James Pootoolal, a giraffe supervisor at the African Lion Safari park in Ontario, Canada, giraffes are coming back slowly but surely in the form of artificial insemination and frozen semen insemination. This procedure involves giraffe sperm being collected and saved in case male giraffes are not born or the males that would mate with females died off before they could mate. Artifical insemination involves injecting said sperm into a female giraffe and letting a baby form in that way. This procedure is currently being used on the Rothschild giraffe species, which only contains about 1,000 wild giraffes in the entire world

Pootoolal explains that "although giraffes are such popular animals, not much is known about their biology" and that is why people don't pay attention to the decline of giraffes as much, focusing on other animals like pandas, rhinos, and gorillas. He also explains that people should care for all creatures because they have personalities and feelings just like humans and other domesticated animals. Just because the genes belong to a wild animal does not mean that they matter any less.

Pootoolal and his team were enthusiastic about their first artificial insemination baby Safari, and they are hoping that the giraffe baby born of frozen semen insemination will live and survive because that would mean that that procedure is viable and the genetic material from long dead giraffes, in addition to the newly saved genetic material, can be used to repopulate the species and bring it back from endangerment. I think this could be really beneficial. not only for my favorite animal the giraffe but for other endangered animals too. If the genetic material turns out to harbor genes that protect against disease, they could be passed on to future generations and further slow down the decline of endangered species numbers.

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