Reproductive Anatomy of the Male Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

Helle B. Hydeskov1, DVM, MRCVS; Carsten Grøndahl1, DVM, PhD; Arne Hørlyck2, MD; Robert Hermes3, DrMedVet, MRCVS; Emil T. Brøndum4, PhD; Mads F. Bertelsen1, DVM, DVSc, DACZM, DECZM

1Center for Zoo and Wild Animal Health, Copenhagen Zoo, Frederiksberg, Denmark; 2Department of Radiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby, Aarhus C, Denmark; 3Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany; 4Department of Biomedicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark


The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a commonly kept species in zoological gardens throughout the world. Although still classified as a “Least Concern” species, the wild giraffe population is decreasing,1 with some subspecies even listed as “Endangered”.2,3 In the future, breeding giraffes in zoological gardens might be a significant step in conservation and may include artificial insemination. This study of the immature male giraffe reproductive system compared transrectal ultrasound findings with gross anatomy at post mortem. Transrectal ultrasounds were performed on immature male giraffes (n=7) to assess and measure accessory sex glands. Measurements from ultrasound were compared to gross anatomy post mortem in the same individuals. In addition, histology was performed on the whole male giraffe reproductive system (n=14).

This study provides information for the use of ultrasound as a diagnostic tool to assess the reproductive status of male giraffes,4 and is the first anatomic report of the male giraffe genital system.


The authors thank the staff at Wildlife Assignments International, South Africa and everybody involved in the Danish Cardiovascular Giraffe Research Programme—Expedition II for making this project possible.

Literature Cited

1.  Fennessy, J., and D. Brown. 2010. Giraffa camelopardalis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. Downloaded on 14 May 2012.

2.  Fennessy, J., and D. Brown. 2008. Giraffa camelopardalis spp. peralta. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. on 14 May 2012.

3.  Fennessy, J., and R. Brenneman. 2010. Giraffa camelopardalis spp. rothschildi. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. Downloaded on 14 May 2012.

4.  Lueders, I., C. Niemuller, J. Pootoolal, P. Rich, C. Gray, W.J. Streich, and T.B. Hildebrandt. 2009. Sonomorphology of the reproductive tract in male and pregnant and non-pregnant female Rothschild’s giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rotschildi). Theriogenology 72:22–31.


Speaker Information
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Helle B. Hydeskov, DVM, MRCVS
Center for Zoo and Wild Animal Health
Copenhagen Zoo
Frederiksberg, Denmark

Department of Veterinary Disease Biology
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
University of Copenhagen
Frederiksberg C, Denmark

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