giraffe april 2016

Giraffes are the tallest land mammal with long necks and legs. Their necks have 7 vertebrae like most mammals and are linked with ball and socket joints allowing for increased flexibility. Giraffes also have two horn-like structures covered in skin on the tops of their heads, called ossicones, which are used by males to compete for females. Subspecies of giraffes vary in patterns, but all are typically cream colored with darker brown patches aiding in camouflage.

Diet: Giraffes are herbivorous, feeding on the leaves, fruits, flowers and stems of trees that other African animals are too short to reach. They use their 18 inch, prehensile tongue to eat up to 75 pounds of more than 100 different plant species each day. Giraffe are also ruminants, and will regurgitate food in order to re-chew and digest tough vegetation. Typically, giraffes obtain most of their water from their diet, but can be seen drinking water every 2 or 3 days if it is available.

In the Wild: Giraffes are not territorial and will form loose herds with no permanent members. Newborn calves are able to stand within 20 minutes of birth, and will nurse for one year. Young calves are often prey for carnivores such as lions, hyenas, African wild dogs, and leopards, and female giraffes often stand over their calves to protect them. Male calves will typically leave their herd at three years of age and can form bachelor herds while female giraffes typically remain close by for life. Other herbivores like wildebeest and zebra can also be seen in close proximity to giraffes. As the “watchtowers of the savanna”, the giraffe’s long necks and large eyes provide them with more opportunity to spot predators.

Conservation issues/actions: Increased human population and expansion, habitat destruction for farming, and increased droughts pose some of the most significant threats to giraffe populations as they result is more frequent human/wildlife conflicts. Additionally, giraffes are sometimes hunted for their meat and hides, and their tails are often taken and used as fly swatters as well as good luck symbols.

At the Zoo:

The giraffes at Reid Park Zoo are the reticulated subspecies which are predominantly found in Kenya, and are distinguished by their large, chestnut colored patches outlined by thin white lines. 

When you visit the Giraffe Encounter, you help raise thousands of dollars for field research and conservation projects every year. Thanks!


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Species Name:
Reticulated Giraffe
Scientific Name:
Giraffa camelopardalis
Proud Parents:
Diego Feder
Elizabeth Allan
Garret Balensiefer
Greta Moss
Riley Pekny
Eisen Rowden
Lauren Leonhardt
Luka Hamilton
Aurora Potter
Greyson Solis
Lillian Francis
McKenzie Gross
Alana Manoharan
Karen J. Wong
Alan Fias
Sorélle Doss-James
Theresa Rivera
Tessa Davis
Alexander Galbraith
Victoria Welch
Chad Bagwell
Barbara Polston
Amber Henry Messer
Susan Hunziker
Sonnie Wheeler
Grace Davidson
Jazmine Gordon
Amy Wacker
Barbara Polston
Morgan Thompson
Marylee Pangman
Autumn S. Daniel
Judah Spreiser
Garren Katz
Margery Rubin & Bryan Campbell
Mary Kessler
Ruth P Strand
Elizabeth Henderson
Setareh Duquette
Janine Barker
Breanna Salvino
Carol Breckner
Sharyn Felton
Grammy Rowley
Cassandra Weil
Reyna DeWitt
Jane Howson
Philip Southard
Tino Saccani
Janet Zaleski
Brian Turk
Katie Wong
Gaynelle Walls
Richard Siegel
Susan Rubin
Jen Baltrus
Marie Simon
Cameron Finkle
Delilah Gibson
Shannon Friedmeyer