Two Wellington Zoo staff are flying to Africa next month to help with hands-on conservation work putting trackers on wild giraffes.
Team leader of herbivores Bobby Stoop and zoo vet Emily Kay are using "conservation leave" provided by the zoo to do their part for the globally threatened species with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
"Traditionally they've been seen as quite a common species," Stoop said.
"The reality is they're facing a decline at a very alarming rate. In the last 30 years we've seen an almost 40 per cent decline in total giraffe population."
Kay said giraffes were suffering a "silent population crisis", with some types of giraffe actually critically endangered.
Deforestation and human expansion were behind the issue, Stoop said.
"The giraffes are losing their habitats at a very, very rapid rate. This comes down to us increasing our settlements, building more roads, and that kind of thing."
Stoop and Kay will go out in the field and help anaesthetise wild giraffes in Namibia, after which they will attach solar-powered GPS trackers to the animals so they can get a better idea of how to manage their populations.
"[Then] we can understand how they use their habitat, how they use their resources, how far they actually travel - because not much is actually known about these enormous animals," Kay said.
"We're really quite excited to be able to participate in that kind of conservation work."
Wellington Zoo has three giraffes - one of which has only recently joined the herd.
Sunny the male giraffe is less than 2 years old and was brought over from Australia to be a companion to the two females, Zahara and Zuri.
Sunny, who has one eye after suffering an accident, was quickly introduced to the females and has settled in well.
"We thought he maybe would take a little bit of time to get used to the temperature we've got here in Wellington, but the fact that he's fitted in with the females so well, he's just focused on the girls in his group rather than the temperature," Stoop said.
Sunny is the smallest of the zoo's giraffes, with Zahara reaching a towering 4.5m tall.
The roughly 960kg giraffe eats 20-40kg of food every day.
Kay said giraffes were "pretty much the most incredible animal we can introduce people to".
For visitors who pay for a close encounter, where they can get up close and feed the giraffes, 10 per cent of the proceeds go into the zoo's conservation fund.
Kay said other ways people could help giraffe populations on World Giraffe Day today included visiting zoos that supported conservation work, focusing on eco-tourism, and not buying products with giraffe material in them.