PALM DESERT —  Giraffe are in the midst of a silent extinction, and the time is now to step up and help save them, said officials at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

Two subspecies of giraffes are being listed as critically endangered for the first time by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Kordofan and Nubian subspecies of giraffe are critically endangered. Only 4,000 are left in the wild, just a stage away from being extinct.

To bring awareness to the issue, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is celebrating World Giraffe Day — Desert Style. The celebration will recognize the tallest species on the shortest day of the year.

On Friday, Dec. 21, guests to the zoo will be afforded a rare and unique experience from 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. to immerse themselves in the animals’ habitat and climb and explore the savannah, just like they do.

Through educational activities and hands-on displays, guests will learn about the threats to giraffe populations, as well as all of the ways The Living Desert and others are working to conserve the species.

Additional giraffe-related activities include storytelling at the Tanzanian Schoolhouse (9:30-10:30 a.m.), chats (10 a.m., 2:35 p.m.), crafts at the Discovery Center (10 a.m.-12 p.m.), plus feedings (10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; feedings are $5 members, $7 non-members).

The Living Desert is home to a herd of eight giraffes. World Giraffe Day – Desert Style aims to raise awareness of the wild population’s threats and the conservation efforts dedicated to help save them. Giraffe populations have declined nearly 40 percent in the last 30 years, and there are estimated to be fewer than 100,000 remaining in the wild, making them one of the world’s most endangered large mammals.

Activities, unless otherwise noted, are free with admission – donations will be accepted to assist with giraffe conservation programs.

Attendees and others are encouraged to use the hashtag #standtallforgiraffe

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is located at 47900 Portola Avenue in Palm Desert.