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Giraffe

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By studying the skull of a Giraffe, you can see that their back teeth are quite far from the front area of the skull.  There is a bony ridge in the front instead of front teeth so when this boy was feeding the giraffe, the food was taken gently and without too much worry about being bitten.  The  32 grinding teeth in back will help the giraffe to chew up their favorite thorny acacia tree twigs and leaves.  They eat over 80 different species of plants besides the acacia leaves when available, giving them a variety in their diet.    The Giraffe's tongue is approximately eighteen inches long and is blackish in color and helps them pluck leaves off the trees.        

 

 

Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) - West Central Africa.  The Giraffe's neck has just seven vertebrae, which is the same as a person.  Of course, the giraffes' vertebrae are elongated to match the length of the neck.  The vertebrae fit together with special "ball and socket" joints, which allows the giraffe to move its neck comfortably and smoothly.   "Giraffes have the highest blood pressure of any warm-blooded animal.  (I found this excellent explanation on a sign at the Stone Zoo.)  The high pressure is necessary to pump blood from the heart up to an 8 foot neck to the head.  Highly elastic valves and blood vessels in the neck allow for the sudden increase in pressure when a giraffe lowers its head to get a drink" or to eat grass.  The Giraffe's front legs are longer than their back legs, causing a continuous slope from its horns to its tail.  

 

 

The Giraffe cow gives birth standing up, leaving the baby calf to drop about 5 feet to the ground.  Within minutes of its birth, the baby giraffe is on its feet searching for milk from it's mother.  The baby calf will weigh about 140 pounds at birth.  The baby giraffe stays isolated from all other giraffes for one month.  There is a special area where the baby giraffes go with other young giraffes.  One giraffe mother stays behind to look after them, while the other mothers go off to eat, coming back two or three times when the calf is hungry.   There are usually three horns on the giraffe.  A baby giraffe is born with these horns, which lie flat against the skull when it is born and then work free during the first week after their birth.  These horns are called ossicorns.    Their tails end in a tuft of dark hair.   

 

 

The giraffe have wonderfully gentle brown eyes.  This is a graceful animal.  Like our fingerprints, the patterns of the giraffe's spots are all unique, with no two having the same pattern.  Their hearing is remarkable.  Their good eye sight and tall height  helps them to observe lions or other predators coming from a long distance, giving the giraffe an advantage.   

 

 

In order to drink or graze on grass, a Giraffe has to spread it's front legs wide apart and bend down.  They don't have to go to the watering hole to drink water very often, which can be awkward as you can see.  The acacia-twig tips have 75 percent water in them and other leaves such as the mimosa and wild apricot leaves, provide the giraffe with the water they need most of the time.  When they do get to a watering hole, they may take in eight gallons of water at a time.   They don't pant or sweat to control their body temperature.  It is controlled by their very thick skin and the size and shape of their body.      

 

 

The Giraffe's tongue is approximately 18 inches long with it being black most of the way.  It is very maneuverable and can get the leaves off the thorniest acacia trees.  The long, prehensile, hairy upper lip protects against the stab of thorns as they get the leaves.      

 

 

There are usually several giraffe herds in one large area in Africa.  Giraffes are gentle and mild mammals.  The only time they may attach is when they are protecting their young from enemies or feel threatened.  Generally they would rather flee.  To find food the giraffe travels over a large area and don't have a permanent home.  The Giraffe has an enormous appetite and spend hours eating selective leaves.  They browse in the early morning and when it cools off in the evening getting the collective moisture on trees that other animals cannot reach.       

 

 

The Giraffe has wedge-shaped hoofs to carry their heavy weight (1200 to 4000 pounds).  The front of the hoof is five or six inches high and the fetlock is very low in the back.  The forefeet are slightly larger than the hind feet since they support most of the weight of the neck and head.  The giraffe hoof is more than twice the size of a cows hoof.  

 

 

Young male giraffes will rub their necks together gently and slowly, they twist and push and play fight and seem to like to hug.  "Necking"  becomes a show of strength when older males later spar for feminine favor by butting each other.  They tire after about 20 minutes, so usually no serious injuries occur.    

A Giraffe chews its cud a great part of the day since it spends a large part of the day eating just the choicest leaves and twigs.  

 
   
   
   
   
   
   

 


 

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Florida Zoos 
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Nashville Zoo, TN
North Carolina Zoo
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Rio Grande Zoo

Riverbanks Zoo - SC
Roger Williams Park Zoo
San Antonio Zoo, Texas 
San Diego Wild Animal Zoo
San Diego Zoo, CA
Smithsonian National
         Zoological Park
Southwick Zoo
St. Louis Zoo
Stone Zoo, New England
Ueno Zoo, Tokyo
Wildlife Safari, Nebraska 
Zoo Granby-Canada

Zurich Zoo - Switzerland

 

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