The giraffe whose name comes from the Arabic Zarafah, meaning Fast Walker, is the tallest quadruped in the world reaching up to 19 feet tall with a body length of 15 feet. They can weigh between 0.5 to 2 tons. Giraffes are vegetarians and mainly feed on acacia and myrrh trees. Their long neck affords the ability to reach the leaves of the thorny acacia along their prehensile blue/black tongue that can extend to 8 inches. Their thick gums and 2-3 lobed teeth can comb the leaves from the thorns. In response to this ability the acacia has evolved to even higher heights. A giraffe consumes 75 pounds over a 12 hour period daily. Because of their long neck a giraffe consumes water in small amounts. They sleep only 1/2 hour a day. There are 9 subspecies but all share basically the same characteristics and lifestyles.
Giraffes live in herds of up to 20 individuals consisting mainly of females and young males. Calves are born after a gestational period of 457 days and can run around a few hours after birth but usually spend most of the time lying down by their mothers. They have nursery groups called crèches which enable them to socialize and allow their mothers to forage for food. They are weaned at 13 months and usually begin to mate at 8 years.
Males usually live solitary lives and are non-territorial. Hierarchy is established by a ritual called necking where two males will swing their necks, which contain 7 vertebrae just like humans, into one another as a form of combat or, at times, affection. A giraffes home range averages 99 miles, which is something to think about when seeing a giraffe in captivity. There is no zoo that affords a giraffe the space that is needed to recreate a natural environment.
Giraffes main predators are lions, leopards, African wild dogs and hyenas. These are predators that they can defend themselves against by kicking with their powerful legs or running away from at 31 mph. The worst predator of giraffes, however, are humans. No matter how fast a giraffe can run a bullet or an arrow is faster. These peaceful, gentle animals can have a life expectancy of 25 years in the wild unless a human decides it’s body would look better as a “trophy” on a wall. Only 25 to 50% of giraffes reach adulthood.
Life is not easy for any animal on the Serengeti but it is people like Sabrina Corgatelli who make it harder. Deeming giraffes dangerous Corgatelli justified the photo of herself standing beside the slaughtered giraffe with his neck draped across her with a caption that said, “Day 2 I got an amazing old Giraffe. Such an amazing animal!!! I couldn’t be happier”.
Yes, Sabrina, giraffes are amazing animals and they deserve to live their lives in peace without the threat of humans like yourself stalking them with guns. Please – stay at home and leave the Serengeti to those to whom it belongs. You are not welcome there.