Giraffe Facts
Giraffe Facts

38 Towering Giraffe Facts

Madeline Thatcher
By Madeline Thatcher, Associate Writer
Published August 14, 2019Updated October 15, 2019
  • The word "giraffe" comes from the Arabic word zarāfa, which means "to jump" or "to hurry." Other linguists think it may mean "assemblage," since early explorers thought the giraffe looked like a compilation of a horse, an ox, and a camel.[6]
  • Giraffes have prehistoric ancestors that existed around 10–12 million years ago, although the modern giraffe has a much longer neck.[1]
  • Giraffes live an average of 25 years in the wild.[4]
  • Giraffes can weigh up to 2,800 pounds.[4]
  • Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world. Their legs alone are often more than six feet long.[4]
  • Female giraffes can grow to be 14 feet tall (4.3 meters), and males can grow to 18 feet (5.4 meters).[5]
  • Giraffe Neck Facts
    With those extra long necks, giraffes are really great at saying hello!
  • Giraffe necks can be up to six feet long (1.8 meters) and can weigh up to 600 pounds (272 kilograms).[5]
  • Giraffes and humans have the same number of neck bones: seven. Those in a giraffe are just 20 times longer than those in a human.[5]
  • The heart of a giraffe weighs 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) and is about 2 feet long (0.6 meters).[4]
  • Giraffe hearts have incredibly strong muscular walls; blood has to travel a long distance from the heart to the brain due to the giraffe's long neck.[5]
  • Giraffes can run as fast as 35 miles (56 km) an hour.[4]
  • Giraffes travel in small packs called "towers."[4][7]
  • Giraffes don't use their vocal chords very often; since they're so high up, they use their eyes to communicate with one another.[2]
  • I was once kissed on the lips by a giraffe, and I don't think I've ever got over it.

    - Joanna Lumley

  • While giraffes' spotting patterns look similar to one another, they're all slightly unique.[4]
  • A giraffe's coat is called a pelage.[2]
  • Giraffes have a particularly foul odor, which may prevent ticks and fungus from growing in their coats.[4]
  • Giraffe How Tall
    Being taller than all your friends in the grasslands has its perks.
  • Thanks to their long necks and long tongues, giraffes have access to food that most other animals can't reach.[4]
  • Giraffes spend 16 to 20 hours every day just searching for and eating food.[5]
  • Some acacia tree seeds can only germinate after passing through a giraffe's digestive tract.[6]
  • Giraffes need to drink water only occasionally, since most of their water comes from their leafy diet.[1][4]
  • Giraffes usually aren't violent animals; while males may fight, they usually don't kill their opponents. Instead, they stop fighting as soon as one of the fighters gives up.[4]
  • Giraffes are one of the smartest artiodactyls (animals with cloven hooves).[6]
  • While giraffes are able to easily spot predators, thanks to their height, they are very susceptible to carnivorous animals when they drink water. Because they're so tall, they must bend their legs and lean down in a way that makes it easy for big cats like lions to attack them.[4]
  • Female giraffes are pregnant for 15 months.[2]
  • Giraffes give birth while standing up, and babies must drop more than five feet (1.5 meters) to the ground as they're born.[4]
  • Baby Giraffe Mom
    Baby giraffes really step it up—they have to, seeing as they're taller than most humans as soon as they're born!
  • Baby giraffes can stand up 30 minutes after they're born and can run after 10 hours.[4]
  • Baby giraffes are born six feet tall (1.8 meters) and can grow up to an inch a day.[5]
  • Giraffes need very little sleep, only 5 to 30 minutes a day.[5]
  • Egyptian rulers often kept giraffes as pets.[6]
  • Julius Caesar christened the Roman Forum with a giraffe sacrifice.[6]
  • Giraffes make great zoo animals; because of their gentle nature and low maintenance requirements, they are easy to care for and are popular with children and other visitors.[3]
  • According to one Portugese explorer, African women created bracelets out of giraffe tail hair.[6]
  • Giraffes are only found in sub-Saharan Africa and have a high risk of extinction in the wild, thanks to poaching and natural predators.[5]
  • Giraffe Population Conservation
    Conservation is important in ensuring giraffes don't go extinct.
  • Giraffes are considered a vulnerable population, and their numbers are decreasing.[4]
  • Human expansion into giraffe-occupied grasslands is one cause of giraffe population decline. Climate change and civil unrest in the countries where they reside also contribute to their status as a vulnerable species.[2]
  • Giraffe populations declined by 40% between 1985 and 2016, as the animals were killed in high numbers for their skins, tails, and meat.[5]
  • About 97,500 giraffes currently exist in Africa.[2]
  • Giraffes live longer in zoos than in the wild, about 32–40 years.[3]

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