DZG’s three giraffes are under investigation as part of a student research dissertation into a parasite that strikes large ruminants – and their poo is providing vital clues!
Keepers had to collect individual 20g fecal samples from Kubwa, Josie and Kito every three days for a month, which had to be frozen and rated before being posted to a laboratory for testing by bioveterinary science students for the haemonchus contortus parasite, also known as the barber pole worm.
Keeper, Holly Clayton-Wright, pictured, said: “We had to collect samples from each giraffe during the morning and afternoon. Luckily they all have different looking poo so we can tell who has produced what which also meant we didn’t have to stand and wait for each one to go!”
Both captive and wild giraffe species are susceptible to infection by the parasite which can cause anaemia and a host of other secondary infections and the project, which also studied the giraffe herd at London Zoo, aims to identify and quantify the prevalence of the parasite in the species.
Holly added: “It’s important to maintain healthy captive populations and we felt this was a worthwhile research project to sign up to. We look forward to reading the results.”