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Taxonomy (SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION)
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
ORDER: Cetartiodactyla (Even-toed Ungulates. “Ungulate” = hoofed mammal)
FAMILY: Giraffidae (Ruminant even-toed mammals whose surviving members are Giraffes and Okapis. “Ruminant” = a mammal that chews regurgitated cud)
GENERA/SPECIES (ACCORDING TO THE GIRAFFE CONSERVATION FOUNDATION):
Southern Giraffe- Giraffa giraffa
Angolan Giraffe- Giraffa giraffa angolensis
South African Giraffe-Giraffa giraffa giraffa
Northern Giraffe- Giraffa camelopardalis
Kordofan Giraffe- Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum
Nubian Giraffe- Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis
West African Giraffe-Giraffa camelopardalis peralta)
Reticulated Giraffe- Giraffa reticulate
Masai Giraffe- Giraffa tippelskirchi
LIFE SPAN: African Giraffes can live up to 25 years in the wild.
HABITAT: Giraffes are native to Africa, and they live primarily in the savannas, grasslands, and open forests of the sub-Saharan regions of the continent.
DIET: Giraffes are herbivores (vegetation eaters) whose favorite food is the acacia (a variety of trees and shrubs that are common in areas where Giraffes live). They also eat herbs, fruits, seeds and leaves- depending on the season. Giraffes don’t have to eat as much as other animals that graze because their long necks enable them to reach high into the trees and consume the part of the plants that has the most nutrients.
A male Giraffe is called a bull
A female Giraffe is called a cow
A young Giraffe is called a calf
A group of Giraffes is called a tower or a journey
Giraffes are the tallest land mammals. Their legs alone are approximately 6 feet tall, which is taller than many humans!
Giraffes are highly social animals who travel around in groups called “towers”. These groups generally have 15 members- an adult male leader along with females and young males.
The neck of a Giraffe is too short for them to reach the ground. This means that Giraffes have to clumsily spread out their front legs or kneel down to reach the ground for a drink of water.
Despite their long necks, Giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as humans—just 7. However, each individual Giraffe neck vertebra is super-sized and measures up to 10 inches long.
Female Giraffes give birth standing up. This means that newborns enter the world with an approximate 5 foot drop to the ground! However, infant Giraffes quickly gain their feet as they are standing within 30 minutes and they are running with their mothers within a few hours of being born!
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the conservation status of Giraffes (the IUCN still considers all Giraffes to be included in one species “Giraffa Camelopardalis”) is as follows:
Giraffes are vulnerable, which means that they may become endangered if their circumstances don’t improve.
The IUCN and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation indicate that the Giraffe population has declined by approximately 40% over the past 3 decades. These organizations state that there are less than 100,000 Giraffes living in the wild today.
This drastic drop is the number of Giraffes living in the wild is being caused by several factors including habitat loss, habitat degradation (worsening of the environment where Giraffes live), and habitat fragmentation (Giraffe populations becoming separated from each other). Additional causes of the dramatic decline in the number of Giraffes are the growing number of the humans in the areas inhabited by Giraffes and the illegal hunting of Giraffes by poachers.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP GIRAFFES?
Educate yourself about Giraffes and their circumstances by reviewing the materials presented below in the Resources section and other materials you may be able to find on your own.
Post messages on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and send emails to your family and friends expressing your concern for the plight of the Giraffes and encouraging them to become involved as well.
Write letters to your elected officials in Washington DC and to leaders in nations where Giraffes live explaining why the conservation of Giraffes is important to you and encouraging these officials to work to help keep Giraffes from ever becoming extinct in the wild.
Help to improve the environment around you and around the world by working to reduce, recycle, and reuse. This will help eliminate waste and will greatly improve the world in which we all live.
And when you shop at Joe’s Cowtown Photos, you can designate Giraffe-centric programs and initiatives such as the World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt a Giraffe Program, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and the African Wildlife Foundation’s efforts on behalf of Giraffes as the beneficiary of the charitable portion of your purchase. (For more information on Joe’s Cowtown Photos charitable giving program, Cowtown Photos Cares!, click here.)
A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns (book) by Woop Studios
Do Something.org: 11 Facts About Giraffes
National Geographic Kids: 10 Giraffe Facts!
Mental Floss: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Giraffes
The IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species Giraffe page
Live Science: Giraffe Facts and Photos
Giraffe Conservation Foundation
Nature.com: “DNA reveals that Giraffes are four species — not one”
The World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt an African Giraffe Page
The African Wildlife Foundation’s Giraffe Page
The United States House of Representatives Page
The information provided in this Animal Info page was compiled by Joe Hoffman (St. Pius X Elementary School Class of 1986 and Founder/Owner of Joe’s Cowtown Photos) and was proof-read and edited by Anita Striegel (Retired 8th Grade Teacher from St. Pius X Elementary School, Joe’s former teacher!)
To access the Animal Info main page, click here!