Reticulated Giraffe

ZOO LOCATION: African Rift Valley


Lifespan: 25 - 30 years

Wild Diet: Leaves, shoots, twigs and bark

Zoo Diet: Alfalfa hay, herbivore grain, giraffe training crackers and, of course, lettuce

Predators: Leopards (prey on young), lions and man.

SSP: no

IUCN Status: Vulnerable


Habitat/Range: Savannahs and thornbush of northeastern Africa

Characteristics: Giraffe are the tallest living mammals. Shoulder height is 8-13 ft., overall height 15-19ft.. Weight is 1,100-2,800 lbs. Reticulated giraffe are brown, with a coarsely netted (reticulated) pattern, its marking mostly quadrangular in shape. Males only have a stiff mane along their necks. Both sexes have horns (smaller on females), which are present at birth in the form of knobs of cartilage covered with skin and hair, which become bony nodules (called "ossicones"). They have seven vertebrae in their necks, the same as man and most other mammals. Their tails measure up to one yard with a terminal tuft of stiff, black hair. They have purplish-black tongues that measure approximately 18 in. long.

Behavior: Giraffes can run up to 35 mph. They have long legs and neck, a long tough, prehensile tongue and leathery mouth for food gathering. Their coloration is protective. Giraffes have high blood pressure (240/160) for pumping blood to the brain. Herds are small and loosely constructed of 5-15 individuals, consisting of one bull with females and young. Other bulls typically live solitary or in pairs. Primary consumer (herbivore). A browsing ruminant that eats regularly throughout the day; They prefer to drink regularly, but can go without water for several days. Though giraffes seem gentle and laid back, when threatened they can be quite dangerous. They kick with their hooves and slam with their heads. Males will battle by swinging their heads and necks at each other.

Reproduction: Giraffes are non-seasonal breeders, usually producing one precocial calf after a gestation period of 14-15 months. Birth height is 5 1/2 - 6 ft., birth weight is 87-107 lbs. They become sexually mature between 3 to 4 years of age.

Conservation: Listed by IUCN as "Vulnerable." In the past 20 years, there has been an estimated 35% decline in wild giraffe populations. In 1998 the IUCN estimated the total number of giraffe in Africa to exceed 140,000, but by 2016, this number has dropped to fewer than 90,000 individuals. Thus far there has been limited research and conservation efforts on wild giraffe, so the extent of their conservation threats are often undetermined. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has partnered with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to support much-needed field research on the different giraffe subspecies and to help with multiple conservation strategies. In January 2016, the Zoo provided financial support and a staff veterinarian to help Operation Twiga translocate 18 Rothschild's giraffe in Uganda back to a historic home range across the Nile River.


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