Rare Hoofed Mammals: Okapi, Giraffe, and Hirola

The Houston Zoo loves its okapi and other hoofed animals at the Zoo and are doing everything we can to protect their counterparts in the wild.   The rare hirola described on this page can only be seen in the wild.  We are also committed to ensuring these rare animals not found in zoos receive strong support and enhancement.

Okapi Conservation Project


2017 Successes:

  • Second annual World Okapi Day reached over 10,000 villagers around the Reserve on the importance of protecting okapi habitat and how they can help
  • Over 460 patrols conducted by rangers, resulting in the removal of 3,168 snares, the arrest of 145 poachers, and closure of 50 illegal poaching and mining camps
  • 39,656 tree seedlings were distributed to farmers to increase crop yields and decrease the need to use land in okapi habitat

The Houston Zoo loves its’ okapis and wants to do everything we can to protect them in the wild.

How We Help Okapi in the Wild
How You Can Help Okapi


Giraffe Conservation Project

2017 Successes:

  • 10 GPS units, 4 digital cameras, 5 motorbikes, and 25 uniforms were distributed to members of the giraffe unit
  • Created giraffe awareness in 5 villages
  • Reticulated giraffe population estimates were initiated in Eastern Kenya
  • Giraffe watering troughs were repaired and water was provided to giraffes

The Houston Zoo loves its’ giraffes and wants to do everything we can to protect them in the wild. Our wildlife conservation partners at the Hirola Conservation Program in Kenya have rushed to the aid of a local giraffe population that has come into conflict with people in eastern Kenya, through the Garissa Giraffe Sanctuary. This sanctuary has helped to support between 300-400 reticulated giraffes.  With recent draught conditions, the local communities have moved their farms closer to water ways in areas that overlap with the paths that giraffes take to drink.  Giraffes were trampling local community’s food sources, so the community members reached out Ali Abdullahi H., the director of the Hirola Conservation Program for solutions. The Zoo assisted Ali with implementing immediate solutions that will protect the giraffe and the local community’s livelihoods.

How We Help Giraffes in the Wild
How You Can Help Giraffes


Hirola Conservation Program


2017 Successes:

  • Created awareness around the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation for 480 students living within the hirola’s home range
  • 10 rangers were trained to work in areas of hirola habitat, protecting this critically endangered animal from extinction
  • Conducted 3 desnaring events, removing snares that pose a threat to hirola and other wildlife in the region

The Hirola Conservation Program, is working hard to save a beautiful and unique antelope called a hirola. This species is endemic (only found in a small area) to northeastern Kenya and southwest Somalia, and they are critically endangered. The latest aerial survey in 2011 estimated that only 300-500 hirola are left!

This program is lead by a local Kenyan named Ali Abdullahi H. He grew up in a herding community with hirola in his back yard in Kenya and now he is committed to saving them from extinction.

Hirola At A Glance:

  • Slender, medium sized antelope that eats short grasses
  • Distinctive glands below each eye giving the appearance of four eyes
  • Now found only in the Kenya- Somali border region,
  • 40 years ago they numbered close to 10,000 but only 300-500 remain today only in the wild

Enjoy this video describing the Hirola Conservation Program:

How the Houston Zoo Helps the Hirola
How You Can Help the Hirola