-Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Friday, February 24, 2006
JERUSALEM (AP) - Vets at the Biblical Zoo have a tall order - stopping a baby boom among giraffes.
After the giraffe population tripled to nine in recent years, outgrowing the zoo on the edge of Jerusalem, the most fertile female - Shavit - has been put on birth control. The 5-year-old has been injected with birth control hormones, delivered by dart, after giving birth twice in four years.
Zoo spokeswoman Sigalit Dzir said Thursday that while the babies are cute and female giraffes make good mothers, there isn't enough room for more. Zoo keepers are also worried about inbreeding.
The zoo recently moved two giraffes to a zoo in Singapore, but American and European zoos don't want animals from Israel because of the risk of foot-and-mouth disease, Dzir said, adding that it's also difficult to transport giraffes overseas.
Shavit has received an injection of hormones that will prevent her from getting pregnant for at least a year. During the year, Shavit will be monitored, and the Biblical Zoo will share its information with other zoos around the world, including those in Berlin and San Diego.
Other zoos also administer birth control, but dart delivery is unique, said Dr. Nili Avnimagen, the zoo's head vet.