Liquid Giraffe was born out of an experience of seeing journeys of giraffe, galloping gracefully through the shallow waters of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Giraffe in liquid motion!
In recent years, the world discovered that the giraffe is not a single species as was always thought. Rather, it is a sub-family containing four distinct species, namely the northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa), reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata) and Masai giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi), and sub-species within these.
Here are our top five reasons to fall in love with all species of these beautiful and endearing orange giants:
1. Giraffes are lanky and loveable
Adult giraffes look down at the rest of the world’s creatures from a height of around 5.4 meters. At 1.8 meters, their legs alone are taller than the average human height and their necks are equally matched in length. This characteristically elongated anatomy makes them the tallest land mammal on earth.
While these lanky limbs and neck are useful for stretching into the tops of trees to reach the juiciest leaves, they make bending down to drink a rather tricky endeavour. Giraffes have to manoeuvre themselves into a sort of spread-eagle stance to quench their thirst – quite a comical process to watch.
2. Giraffes have big hearts
Literally! A giraffe’s heart can weigh up to 11 kilograms and it can pump 60 litres of blood around its body every minute at a blood pressure twice that of an average human. So how exactly do they get blood all the way up those long necks to their brains?
This is done by a series of one-way valves that force blood toward the head. Their lung capacity is 55 litres of air – a human can only hold six litres of air – enabling them to put plenty of oxygen into their blood. Giraffes in the wild tend to live between 20 to 25 years.
3. Giraffes have an unusual tongue
If a giraffe sticks out its tongue, you might be surprised to see that it is not only incredibly long – measuring up to 50 centimetres – but also dark bluish in colour, as though they had just eaten a coloured lollipop.
They have the same number of teeth as us, however, the structure of their mouth is quite different. In order to grab hold of and rip leaves from branches, their teeth are located at the front of the bottom jaw and back of the top jaw, which allows them to use the full extent of their long tongues.
4. Giraffe calves are pretty tough
In the wild, it really is survival of the fittest, which is why game animals like giraffe need to be strong and resilient right from the start.
A new-born giraffe calf will be standing within half an hour of birth and after just 10 hours, they can run alongside their mother and siblings. Female giraffes give birth standing up, which means one of the calf’s first experiences is falling two meters to the ground.
5. Giraffe feet are the size of dinner plates
Imagine walking on feet the size of dinner plates? Well, that is the reality of giraffes! Giraffe hooves are 30 centimetres in diameter, which compensates for their significant height and weight, preventing them from sinking into loose sand.
When giraffes walk, they swing both legs on the same side at almost the same time. This is called pacing and makes giraffes different to other four-legged mammals, such as horses, although they share this walking style with their desert counterpart, the camel.
Feature image courtesy of Dana Allen for Wilderness Safaris.