Houston Zoo Project 2012

Meerkat/ Giraffe


Meerkat 101

Meerkats live in the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa. They are extremely social animals and enjoy spending much of their time together in their "mob" or "gang". They use their keen sense of smell to locate their favorite foods, which include beetles, caterpillars, spiders, and scorpions. They'll also eat small reptiles, birds, eggs, fruit, and plants. Meerkats are very territorial. Meerkats are abundant throughout the African range and are not considered threatened or endangered.

Meerkats At The Zoo

Since these animals are not endangered NOR threatened, having them in a zoo is purely for human entertainment. These animals do not necessarily need to be in the zoo at all. In a way, a zoo may be beneficial because it is protecting a certain population, but the meerkats at this point in time do not need protection. Meerkats are burrowing creatures and their tunnels can cover up to 6 square miles of land. Obviously, six square miles is not the amount of space given to them the zoos.


Giraffe Info

Eats up to 75 pounds of food a day (typically Acacia leaves). Lions are a baby giraffe's main predators. Other predators include hyenas and wild dogs.  The giraffe could be considered the early warning system of the African grasslands. Due to their ability to see long distances. Other animals, such as zebras and antelope, rely on the giraffe for this reason. Giraffes can go weeks without drinking water. Giraffes get most of the water they need from the plants they eat. The giraffe usually sleeps standing up, because it can take too long for a giraffe to get back up on its feet if a predator should approach. There are nine recognised sub-species of Giraffe that are found in differing geographic locations and vary somewhat in the colour and pattern of their spot-like markings. Although the Giraffe would have once been found across sub-Saharan Africa and even in parts of North Africa, today they are extinct from much of their historically vast natural range with only small, isolated populations remaining in a handful of regions in central Africa. Further south however, Giraffe populations are considered to be stable and are even growing in some areas due to an increase in demand for them on private ranches.

Giraffes in Zoos

Due to the poaching of giraffes, I feel as though it is a good idea to keep some in protected areas such as zoos. The only part about putting these animals in zoos that I disagree with is the unnaturalness of the habitats. In the Houston zoo that we visited, I didn't notice any Acacia leaves and their habitat was fairly small for the number of animals occupying it. I also witnessed the somewhat unnatural action of AL of the giraffes laying down, a sign that they have lost/ numbed their natural instincts.