At the Zoo: Giraffe
Our herd of 4 giraffe is all boys, ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old. Giraffe may be one of the easiest animals in the world to identify at first glance, but it may seem more difficult to tell our boys apart. However, if you look closely, you will notice that the colors and patterns of their hides are all quite different. In fact, our 4 giraffe represent 3 different subspecies.
“Jyoti” and “Sekani” are both of the Masai giraffe subspecies. Their patches have ragged shapes and edges, sometimes called “oak leaf pattern.” They are very different colors and have very different personalities too. “Jyoti,” the lighter colored of the two, is our youngest giraffe. He is very friendly and curious, and loves to eat lettuce and hang out with guests at the feeding platform. “Sekani,” a year older and much darker-colored, is quite shy. He never comes up to mingle, but enjoys time under the shade structures. Very unusual for a giraffe, “Sekani” will often sit down!
“Bingwa” is a subspecies of giraffe called a Reticulated giraffe. Although not the oldest, he is the tallest and heaviest. His patches are even in shape, resembling squares and rectangles. He can be a little shy about coming up to the platform to feed, but he loves lettuce.
“Randle,” our oldest, is a Rothschild giraffe, a subspecies that is endangered in its native range. He is a dark brown color with cream-gold netting marks. He is the most dominant of the group, very smart, and somewhat stubborn. He will often come up to the feeding platform, but walks away as soon as the lettuce is finished.
It is important to keep these special animals entertained and challenged. All of the giraffe enjoy a variety of scents, food, and feeders that have a bit of a puzzle before the animals can get to their meal. The giraffe also interact playfully with each other in the exhibit yard.
South of the Sahara Desert in Kenya and Tanzania.
Weight: 4,200 pounds (males), 1,700 pounds (females).
Height: 17-18 feet to horn tips.
20-25 years in the wild, 25-30 years in captivity.
Mainly Acacia and Combretum trees, but eats over 100 different plants including flowers, vines, and herbs depending on availability. Eats 75 lbs. of vegetation per day. Spends 16-20 hours a day feeding. Drinks every 2 or 3 days, and can go weeks without water. Can drink 10 gallons at one time.
Fun Facts: Masai Giraffe
- The plural form of the word giraffe is giraffe!
- Baby giraffe can stand within half an hour and after only 10 hours can run alongside their family.
- Most giraffe spend most of their lives standing up; they even sleep and give birth standing up.
- Since a giraffe’s tall, gangly frame keeps them from curling up to sleep somewhere hidden, sleeping leaves a giraffe highly visible, and thus vulnerable to prey. For this reason, giraffe have one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal, closing their eyes and resting up to only 2 hours per day.
- Giraffe can run as fast as 35 miles per hour over short distances.
- A giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground while standing. As a result, it has to awkwardly spread its front legs or kneel to reach the ground for a drink of water.
- A giraffe’s spots are like a human fingerprint; each giraffe has a different pattern.
In recent years, the giraffe population has been decreasing, mostly due to poaching, human population growth, loss of habitat, and habitat fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation has hurt all the different sub-species of giraffe. Working together, we can help reverse these trends.
Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is committed to excellence in education, conservation, and research and our mission is to "connect people with the living earth." The Zoo is home to many endangered, threatened, and vulnerable wildlife species including giraffe. The Zoo supports giraffe conservation through the protection of habitat and parks in Africa including three parks in Swaziland.
We participate in nearly 100 AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, including with our giraffe. These cooperative breeding and conservation programs help ensure species survival.
How You Can Help
Adopt an Animal!
You can help support expert animal care at the Zoo as well as local and global conservation efforts by purchasing a symbolic animal adoption package.
When you become a member of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo you are supporting conservation year-round.
Be a Conservation Leader!
Each of us can help protect the environment, wildlife, and habitats through choices we make in our daily lives. Even small changes can make big positive impacts on the world around us.
- Wildlife habitat – Saving, protecting, and creating habitat ensures a place for wildlife to live, eat, or migrate through. You can protect giraffe by saving habitat in Africa, and you can help local wildlife in your own back yard by creating wildlife gardens.
- Protecting giraffe – You can support anti-poaching efforts in Africa by contributing to reputable reserves in Africa.