Reticulated giraffe Poppy has transferred safely to her new home at another AZA-accredited zoo. Poppy was born May 27, 2022, to parents Marlee and Bahatika. (Sadly, Bahatika died unexpectedly in March.) Although Poppy’s transfer is not specifically due to an AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) breeding recommendation, the receiving zoo requested the move to expand its existing herd. Poppy could be part of a breeding program in the future.
MCZ’s animal care team says it’s a good time for her to make the trip to another zoo and integrate into another herd. At almost 1 year old, she’s old enough not to need her mother, but young enough to adapt easily. Poppy’s zookeepers comment that she’s already a very independent calf.
Keepers have been preparing Poppy for the move with basic positive reinforcement training, learning how to target and presenting her front feet for veterinary checks. These behaviors are necessary for any giraffe to know when working with zookeepers. It will also help the animal care team work with Poppy at her new zoo, having learned these basic training behaviors. Her new keepers will expand on the behaviors and cues Poppy has already learned, which are necessary for enrichment and participation in her own healthcare.
There have been giraffes that have departed from MCZ in the past and the remaining herd usually notices the change, and they might look for the missing herd mate for a few days. However, giraffes seem to adjust quickly to the departure, providing that they have other giraffes for companionship.
Poppy will be missed by animal care staff and visitors alike, but she will continue to be an ambassador for her wild counterparts and maybe even start a family of her own in the future!
The current giraffe herd at MCZ includes:
The Milwaukee County Zoo will continue to work with the Giraffe Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for recommendations on the future of the herd.