Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)
Helloooo up there!
Giraffes are the tallest land mammal on earth, averaging 14 to 17 feet high. That’s tall enough to look into a second-story window!
No two giraffes look exactly alike
Like a fingerprint, the markings of a giraffe’s coat are unique to each individual.
Chew on this
The giraffe is the world’s largest ruminant, digesting plant-based food by initially softening it in the first stomach, then regurgitating the cud and chewing it again.
Few close cousins
Giraffes are related to other even-toed ungulates such as deer and cattle, but their only close relative is the okapi.
Home on the range
Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands or open woodlands where acacias – their preferred diet -- are abundant.
Stand back and hold your nose!
The giraffe's fur works as a chemical defense, full of antibiotics and smelly chemicals that act as parasite repellents, giving the giraffe a strong odor. Old males are sometimes nicknamed "stink bulls."
No need for caffeine
Giraffes have one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal, between 10 minutes and two hours in a 24-hour period, averaging 1.9 hours per day.
A camel? A leopard? A bit of both?
The species name camelopardalis (camelopard) is derived from the giraffe’s early Roman name, where it was described as having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard. The English word camelopard first appeared in the 14th century and survived in common usage well into the 19th century.
Male or female? The hint’s in the horns
Horns are formed from ossified cartilage and are a means of identifying the sex of giraffes: females have tufts of hair on top, whereas males' horns tend to be bald..
Something in common
Like humans, giraffes have seven vertebrae in their elongated necks, which may weigh 600 pounds and account for half their height.
Welcome – ouch! – to the world
The mother giraffe gives birth standing up and the embryonic sack usually bursts when the baby falls headfirst to the ground. Newborn giraffes are about 6 feet tall.
Keep your distance
A single well-placed kick from a giraffe can shatter a lion's skull or break its spine. Lions are the only predators that pose a serious threat to an adult giraffe.
WWF's Work with Giraffes
Giraffes are unusual and fascinating creatures. Evolving from a tall, antelope-like mammal that roamed Europe and Asia 30-50 million years ago, giraffes are still largely abundant in Africa, except for two endangered subspecies. Scientists believe the giraffe’s long neck was an adaptation that allowed it to feed more competitively. WWF supports giraffe conservation through the protection of disappearing habitat and anti-poaching efforts.