Giraffe – reticulated giraffe
(Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)
The reticulated giraffe is the most famous of all giraffes. Their eponymous hallmark is the fur pattern, which reminds us of a golden net. The reticulated giraffe is native to eastern Africa, where they always form loose groups in search of new grazing grounds and waterholes.
What you should know about giraffes
Giraffes can be found as both lone animals as well as living in casual groups, consisting of cows, calves and up to two bulls. As daytime and nocturnal animals, the giraffes wander through the savannah looking for feeding sites without claiming their own grounds.
Rugged start to life
A female giraffe gives birth while standing and as a result, her calf falls from a height of around two meters. This is literally a hard introduction to life for the calf, which is why there is always a lot of hay in the zoo ready to break the fall on the otherwise slippery ground and to avoid injury from slipping. It's able to stand up after around an hour after birth and even run a little later on.
Giraffe tongue – a tough eating utensil
Giraffes enjoy eating the new shoots of acacia trees the most. You shouldn't just be taken aback by its spine because its 25–50 cm long blue tongue has grown into something quite robust. Giraffes wrap their tongue around the branches very skillfully to strip off the leaves, allowing them to devour up to 80 kg of food per day.
On the go with stilts
When the going gets tough, giraffes can reach speeds of over 50 km/h with their long legs. They rarely lie down to sleep and only rest for a short time and preferably in a standing position. They spread their front legs wide apart when drinking at the waterhole, in order to fully reach the ground. Their stilts are even used to successfully defend against predators because even a single hoof kick to the head is enough to fatally wound a lion.
Is it true, that ...?
Many assume that giraffes have more cervical vertebra in their neck, which stretches over two metres, than other mammals. This is, however, not the case. Giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae, exactly the same amount as us humans; theirs are however highly extended. This gives the giraffe the advantage of reaching the leaves on even the largest trees compared to smaller animals.