NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas, May 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Tuesday May 10 marks the first Texas Giraffe Day, according to a Texas House of Representatives resolution adopted by Rep. Doug Miller last May to honor the rare giraffe twins born at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch (NBWR), and to sound the alarm that wild giraffe are dying at a rapid pace.
According to South Africa University of the Free State lecturer and giraffe researcher Francois Deacon, more than half of the wild giraffe populations have been lost in the last 15 years; 400,000 have been lost in the last 40 years.
"Until the birth of the twin giraffes on May 10, 2013, and the connections we made with biologists and researchers in Africa, we had no idea that wild giraffe were in danger," said NBWR animal specialist Tiffany Soechting. "Texas Giraffe Day must sound the alarm, raise awareness and spark conversation on giraffe conservation. Because I can't imagine our planet without our tallest mammal running wild."
NBWR Giraffe Ambassadors, giraffe enthusiasts who have taken a pledge to share the challenges of wild populations, gathered April 30 in advance of Texas Giraffe Day. "When I learned of wild giraffe dying, I created a presentation to share with my class, " said Giraffe Ambassador Hunter Reeves, 10. "Wild giraffes need our help."
With proceeds from the Giraffe Ambassador Program, NBWR contributed $2,500 to Deacon's research to fund an ear tag that will track a wild giraffe for up to two years. Deacon was the first researcher to develop a GPS tracking device for wild giraffes. His research focuses on following the tagged giraffes in order to learn their habits and identify the causes for their rapid decline.
"It's a short timeframe for that type of decline to occur," said Deacon. "We are trying to determine "why" in order to influence better decision-making on conservation and management practices. If we don't learn more about what's causing these losses, we may lose this magnificent creature from our planet."
Texas filmmaker Ashley Davison filmed the giraffe twins first week of life. Their unique story inspired him to produce a documentary called Last of the Longnecks.
"It's about raising awareness," said Soechting. "Our rare twin giraffes have sparked a fire within animal lovers and biologists worldwide—and we feel it's our responsibility to use our resources to educate and inform so that the next generation will be able to see wild giraffes, too."
About Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Opened in 1984, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch has become one of Texas' most recognized attractions. The Ranch covers 450 acres of Texas hill country terrain and provides 6 miles of paved roads where guests drive through and witness the natural animal behaviors of over 500 animals from over 40 exotic, native and endangered animal species worldwide. The natural, free-roaming environment is home to many unique animals, including Southern White Rhinoceros', North American Buffalo, Reticulated Giraffes, Schimitar-horned Oryx as well as many zebras, emus, ostriches, gazelle and wildebeests. For more information, visit www.WildlifeRanchTexas.com.
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SOURCE Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch