Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

Giraffes are the tallest land mammals in the world, with heads that may tower twenty feet (6 m) above ground. Their great height allows them to reach the leaves of the spiny trees that are their staple.

They pluck the buds, fruit, and leaves of these trees with prehensile upper lips and long tongues that can be extended up to eighteen inches (45 cm).


They also eat grasses, seeds, grains, and other low-lying vegetation.

Their herds of twenty to forty individuals are led by a dominant, usually old, bull.

Shy animals, they possess keen senses of smell and hearing, which help them stay clear of predators.

Once widespread and abundant, giraffes have been heavily hunted for their flesh and their hide.


Animal Facts

Name: Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Family: Giraffidae (Giraffe and Okapi)


Range: Sub-Saharan Africa

Habitat: Savanna to open woodland

Diet: Mostly mimosa and acacia leaves

Head and Body Length: 12.5 to 15.5 feet (3.8 to 4.7 m)

Tail Length: 31 to 41 inches (79 to 104 cm)

Shoulder Height: 8 to 12 feet (2.5 to 3.7 m)

Weight: 1,200 to 4,250 pounds (550 to 1,930 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating depends on locale; gestation 400 to 460 days, one (rarely two) young born

Description: Light brown to cream background with dark brown blotches; long, muscular tongue; skin-covered horns; short, sloping body; long, thin legs

Conservation Status: Lower Risk (Conservation Dependent)

Major Threat: Habitat loss

What Can I Do?: Visit the African Wildlife Foundation for information on how you can help.