- Genus/Species: Giraffa camelopardalis
- Conservation Status: Lower risk
- Location: Africa, south of the Sahara Desert
The Tallest Mammal
Giraffes roam the savannahs, bush, scrub, and open acacia woodlands of Africa. Each giraffe has unique markings, which distinguish it from others, much like a human fingerprint. They have excellent vision, hearing and sense of smell. They are one of the few species of mammals that see in color. Giraffes have horns unlike any other mammal. These horns are present at birth and grow slowly throughout a giraffe’s life. Though they may look ungainly, giraffes are actually not only graceful, but fast too. In fact, they can gallop at 35 mph, which is as fast as a car.
Giraffes are the tallest amongst mammals. Males are sometimes 18 feet tall, which means a giraffe is three times taller than your Dad! Giraffes range in weight from 1210-3960 pounds- or as much as a car. They love to eat the tender leaves of acacia, mimosa brush, and Combretum trees. Giraffes are ruminants. This means that they have more than one stomach. In fact, giraffes have four stomachs, and the extra stomachs assisting with digesting food.
The encroachment of human populations on their natural habitat has been devastating to the wild population of giraffes, especially in West Africa. In a cooperative effort with the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions, the organization known as Busch Gardens closely manages giraffe populations through a program called the Species Survival Plan or SSP.
Did You Know?
- A giraffe’s tongue is purplish-black and can extend almost twenty inches! This adaptation is thought to keep the tongue free from sunburn.
- Giraffes only drink water every two to three days, but can drink up to 10 gallons at a time. They gather most of their water from the vegetation they eat.
- Giraffes may appear to be silent, but they can mew, bellow, cough, snort, moan and hiss.
- A female giraffe gives birth while standing up. The calf drops approximately 6 feet to the ground, but it is not hurt from the fall. A calf is six feet tall at birth and is able to stand after about twenty minutes