As a follow up to my recent post about our visit to Nairobi's giraffe center, I thought it might be interesting to share some facts about this endangered subspecies of Giraffe.
There is only one species of giraffe, Giraffa Camelopardalis, however there are 9 subspecies to this, one being the endangered Rothschild. The Rothschild can be differentiated by their spot colors, mature males having 5 horns, and a lack of spots below their knees.
Giraffe are the tallest land mamals. Bulls are about 5.5 meters (16-18 ft) and weigh around 1800kg (3000lbs). Cows are smaller, about 4.2-4.9 meters (14-16ft) tall and weigh around 1134kg (2500lbs).
In captivity Giraffes can live up to 28 years old. However, in the wild their average life expectancy is about 10-15 years.
Giraffes are grazing herbivores with 4 stomachs. Their favorite food is the leaves of the acacia tree. Adult bulls consume approximately 35kg (75lbs) of food daily, and can eat as much as 65kg at a time.
15 months. Calf birth weight is around 68kg (150lbs) and they stand up to 2m (5ft) tall. Within one hour a calf is able to walk and suckle milk from its mother. Calves suckle for 10-12 months and start eating other food a few days to weeks after birth.
The largest cats and hyenas prey upon calves. On rare occassions adult giraffe are attacked when seated or drinking as are the elderly and sick.
Giraffes have height advantage (duh!) with excellent vision. Their long legs are used as weapons in defence with powerful kicks. Giraffe can run up to 56km/h (35mph). Bulls also use their heads as weapons when two males are determining who the dominant animal is.
The heart is large - weighing 11 kg (25lbs) and measuring .3m by .6m (2ft by 1ft). It can pump up tp 76 liters (20 gallons) per minute and generates blood pressure 3 times greater than that of humans.
Giraffe rest during the hottest part of the day, usually standing, but will also lie down to rest with legs tucked beneath the body and the head held up high. Giraffes sleep no more than 5 to 30 minutes in 24 hours.
Giraffe are social and live in family herds of 2 to 50 animals. Herds are territorial while browsing, with a dominant male present.