Greenville Zoo officials announced today that Kiden, the zoo’s two-year-old female Masai giraffe, has been recommended for transfer to the Oregon Zoo in Portland. The move is part of the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program among 34 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Kiden will be paired with Buttercup, the Oregon Zoo’s five-year-old male Masai giraffe, who currently shares his habitat with Desi, a nine-year-old male reticulated giraffe.
Because fans are unable to say goodbye in person, the Zoo will celebrate with a Facebook LIVE virtual going-away party at 10 a.m. on April 15.
While details of the transfer are still being worked out, the Greenville Zoo is preparing for Kiden to leave in late spring. The zoo staff will move Kiden to a separate stall and keepers will begin working with her to prepare for her journey to Oregon. Kiden will travel to her new home in a custom trailer driven by a licensed exotic animal transporter. The trip is expected to take two to three days.
Species Survival Plans were created in the 1970s to maintain stable zoo populations for species facing threats in the wild. In general, the goal is to manage a population under human care for 100 years into the future. This often means transferring animals to spread out the gene pool, much like what happens in the wild. Over time, closed groups would eventually die off due to inbreeding, which weakens animals genetically over generations.
According to Greenville Zoo General Curator James Traverse, as the Greenville Zoo continues its partnerships with the various SSPs, and its breeding programs continue to be successful, animals will continue to move in and out of the zoo. “Transferring Kiden will provide the Greenville Zoo with more space, so we can continue with our SSP recommendation of breeding our adult pair, Miles and Autumn,” said Traverse. “Even though we’ll miss her, we know Kiden will be in great hands and we’re proud and excited that this change will help ensure the survival of this magnificent species for future generations.”
Since the zoo is closed, the staff is currently planning for a way giraffe fans can say goodbye to Kiden. The public is encouraged to follow the Greenville Zoo on social media for additional information and announcements in the coming weeks.