taking action for

Reticulated Giraffes

We helped provide funds to bring hundreds of local Kenyan Students on their first Safari on the Matatu ya Twiga (the Giraffe Bus). We also supported the creation of a novel telemetry system that is safe and non-invasive to the giraffe population.

Reticulated giraffe are gentle giants that tower over the African savanna. The "reticulated" spot pattern makes them very unique and rare. Surprisingly, little is known about their biology, ecology, or behavior. Oakland Zoo is committed to supporting research efforts that increase the knowledge of this beautiful creature teetering on the brink of extinction. Through our conservation partner’s field research, biologists are gaining better understanding about the remaining reticulated giraffe population and details about how to protect them.

Conservation Challenges

Poaching/Illegal Wildlife Trade

These majestic animals are in serious decline. Giraffe are being killed in the wild for their body parts. Giraffe meat is sold in the open, illegally at markets, often labeled as “beef”. Poaching has only increased during the Covid pandemic, due to food scarcity and job loss. Giraffe pelts, bones, hair, and tails are also profitable. Giraffe hair is used to make bracelets, fly whisks, and other items. Giraffe parts are also exported as part of the illegal wildlife trade. Annually, thousands of items made from giraffe are imported to the United States for sale (From 2006 to 2015: 3,744 giraffe hunting trophies, 21,402 giraffe bone carvings, and 3,008 giraffe-skin pieces).

Loss of Habitat

The wide range reticulated giraffe once enjoyed is quickly disappearing due to habitat loss, due to population growth, urban development, agriculture, and mining. With more and more people moving into their territory, giraffe are losing their primary source of food: acacia trees. Researchers believe the reticulated giraffe population is faring worse than other animal species. Today, it is estimated there are fewer than 9,500 reticulated giraffe alive in the wild, with almost all restricted to habitat on the north coast of Kenya.

John Doherty (Reticulated Giraffe Project) and Jessica Chapman (Oakland Zoo) in the field, researching giraffes in Kenya.

Oakland Zoo is Taking Action for Giraffe

Project Support

Oakland Zoo supports the mission of the Reticulated Giraffe Project through an annual partnership grant.

Community Engagement

Oakland Zoo shares dire conservation issues facing giraffe and empowering solutions to the public through a variety of channels: Docents and Volunteers, Teen Wild Guides, Education programs, events, exhibits, campaigns, Keeper Talks, and media stories. The zoo is committed to combating the Illegal Wildlife Trade with a comprehensive campaign to ensure our community is part of the solution: #Endthetrade: Illegal Wildlife Trade.

Oakland Zoo celebrates giraffe and the crucial conservation work being done by the Reticulated Giraffe Project with special events at the zoo. We allow guests to experience a rare giraffe feeding opportunity during “Brunch with the Wild Bunch” and donate funds raised from this popular event to the Reticulated Giraffe Project.

Leadership Training and Staff Expertise

Oakland Zoo provides yearly professional development training for field partners, offering them a myriad of staff skills and resources to enhance conservation efforts. 

Eco-Travel with Impact

Oakland Zoo’s Eco-Travel to Kenya includes a special visit with the Reticulated Giraffe Project, hands-on work, engagement with the local community, and delivery of needed supplies. Oakland Zoo offers travel participants a unique glimpse into the complexities of conservation issues and solutions with the aim to positively impact our partner projects, our travelers, and wildlife.

The Reticulated Giraffe Project

The Reticulated Giraffe Project aims to promote stewardship, advocacy and awareness of reticulated giraffes, while addressing the lack of information through research of this declining species.


AZA SAFE (Association of Zoo's & Aquariums Saving Animals From Extinction) focuses the collective expertise within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their massive audiences to save species.

Taking Action for Giraffes: You Can Too!

  • ATTEND one of the Zoo’s Brunch with the Wild Bunch special giraffe feeding events.
  • EXPERIENCE an Eco-Travel trip with Oakland Zoo and to Kenya. 
  • PURCHASE environmentally sustainable craft items from Oakland Zoo’s gift shop that support the livelihoods of Kenyans. 
  • DONATE to Oakland Zoo by emailing Amy Gotliffe  and your funds will directly support efforts to help save Reticulated Giraffe from extinction.