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The Giraffe
Giraffe

The giraffe is the tallest living animal, uniquely adapted to reach vegetation inaccessible to other herbivores. Giraffes have a distinctive walking gait, moving both right legs forward, then both left. It can run up to 56 kilometres an hour or 35 miles per hour.

The Tallest Land Mammal
 

Parks Where Found

Physical Characteristics

  • The giraffe is the tallest living animal
  • Giraffes have a distinctive walking gait, moving both right legs forward, then both left.
  • Can run to to 56 kilometres an hour or 35 miles per hour.
  • Giraffe "horns" are actually knobs covered with skin and hair above the eyes that protect the head from injury.

Natural Environment

Giraffes are found in arid and dry-savanna zones south of the Sahara, wherever trees occur.

Behaviour

The giraffe is non-territorial and social; it lives in very loose, open herds with no specific leaders or coordination of herd movement. This structure reflects that a giraffe’s size makes a “safety in numbers” tactic unnecessary, and that the trees they feed on tend to be spaced apart. Dominance between males is established by “necking”—swinging heads at one another in tests of strength.

Diet

Giraffes eat grass and fruits of various trees and shrubs, but their principal food source is the acacia tree. The tree's sharp horns do not seem to stop the giraffe, which has a long, muscular tongue specially adapted to select, gather and pluck foliage.

Predators and Threats

  • Humans to make fly whisks and stringing beads
  • Lions
  • Hyenas

Facts for Fun

  • Despite its long neck, the giraffe has only seven vertebrae, exactly the same number as man and most other mammals.
  • Even though giraffes are often seen together in groups, they do not form the complex social groups of many plains species. Theirs are loose associations, constantly changing in make-up.
Herbivores

Giraffe

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