- Scientific Name:
- Giraffe camelopardalis
- Park Location:
- Lost Kingdom
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- Woodland, grassland
- Despite its length, there are no more vertebrae (small bones) in the neck of the giraffe than there are in yours!
- A giraffe’s heart can pump up to 16 gallons (61 litres) of blood per minute.
- Giraffe sleep standing up or lying down but for no more than 20 minutes at a time!
There are currently 9 different sub-species of giraffes roaming the plains of Africa. One of the most endangered are the Rothschild’s with only a few hundred remaining in the wild.
The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world; they can grow up to 19 feet (5.7 metres) tall - that’s about the height of the gutter on a two-storey house! They can weigh up to 2660 pounds (1200 kilos). Giraffe live in small herds with one dominant male. They are herbivores, spending much of the day grazing on thorny acacia trees - the males from the high branches, the females from the lower.
Female giraffes travel in loosely structured herds. Females will breed with dominant males in their local area giving birth to a single calf after 15 months' gestation. Calves suckle for 9 - 12 months, and males leave their mothers at 15 months to form bachelor herds. Females will become independent from their mother at 18 months but remain in the same area as their family herd.
Telling apart the different sub-species of giraffe can be difficult. However, the Rothschild’s have no markings below the knee, making it easier! All giraffes' patterns are unique to the individual and can be used to tell them apart. In the wild their average lifespan is between 10 and 15 years, but in captivity, where they have no predators and are less prone to disease, they can live up to 25 years.
The natural predators of the giraffe young are lions, hyenas and leopards. The real enemy of the fully-grown giraffe is man, who hunts these creatures for the tourist trade. Habitat loss is also contributing to the decrease in numbers with some populations becoming extinct within its range. Rothschild’s giraffes are part of a strict breeding programme to increase numbers held in captivity.