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Giraffe

Animal Fact Guide

At an average height of around 5 m (16-18 ft.), the


giraffe is the tallest land animal in the world.

Characterized by its long legs, long neck, and


distinctive spotted pattern, many people first believed
the giraffe was a cross between a leopard and a camel,
which is reflected in its scientific name, Giraffa
camelopardalis.
Giraffes live primarily in savanna areas in the subSaharan region of Africa. Their extreme height allows
them to eat leaves and shoots located much higher
than other animals can reach. In particular, they seek
out acacia trees. Their long tongues are helpful in
eating because they help pull leaves from the trees.
Spending most of the day eating, a full-grown giraffe
consumes over 45 kg (100 lb.) of leaves and twigs a
day.
The male giraffe is both taller and heavier than the
female. Both sexes have skin-covered knobs, called

ossicones, on the top of their heads. Female ossicones


are smaller and have a small tuft of fur on top, while
male ossicones are bald on the top. These knobs are
used to protect the head when males fight, which
involves swinging their necks at each other in a show
of strength called necking.

When giraffes walk, they move both


legs on one side of their body and
then both legs on the other side; this
is unique to giraffes. However, they
run in a similar style to other
mammals, swinging their rear legs
and front legs in unison. They can
reach 55 km/h (35 mph) at full speed
but only in brief spurts.
Giraffes sleep less than two hours a day.
In general, they sleep with their feet
tucked under them and their head resting
on their hindquarters, but they can also
sleep for short periods of time standing up.
Female giraffes can become pregnant at 5 years old.
They carry a baby for 15 months and give birth while
standing up. Newborns are about 2 m (6 ft.) tall and
weigh 70 kg (150 lb.).
They live up to 25 years in the wild.

Conservation
Status
Giraffes are listed by
IUCNs Red List as a
species of least
concern. Due to a
decreasing population
trend, however, the
IUCN intends to
monitor their
population status to
determine if the
animals shall be placed in a higher threat category in
the near future.
They face several threats, including loss of habitat due
to logging for firewood. They are also hunted for their
meat, hides, and tails, which are valued by many
African tribes.
What You Can Do to Help
To help preserve giraffe populations, boycott products
made with giraffe body parts and encourage others to
do the same.

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