The tallest and one of the most unique animals on Earth is the giraffe. Giraffes are well-known for their tall stature, long neck, and long legs. They can be found on the continent of Africa in the wild in the savanna, a type of rolling grassland with scattered trees and shrubs. Many large herds of grazing animals, such as the giraffe, thrive on the savanna from the abundance of grass and trees. The people in Africa once called the giraffe a camel-leopard because they looked like a combination of a camel and leopard.
Giraffes can grow up to 17 feet tall and weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, with the male giraffes called bulls, larger than the female giraffes which are called cows. The baby giraffe is called a calf and are also large, reaching about 6 feet tall at birth. Calves can walk within 30 minutes of their birth but are very vulnerable to predators, and many of them do not survive past their first week of life. Baby giraffes can run after about 10 hours following birth. The young grow about two inches per day and stay with their mothers for about two years before they become independent.
The large size of the giraffe also means they have a large heart that can be 2 feet long and weigh over 20 pounds. The large hearts help pump the blood up to the top of their long necks. The interesting pattern of a giraffe's coat is likely for camouflage, and the giraffe's spots are much like human fingerprints with no two giraffes having the same pattern. The average lifespan of a giraffe is about 10 to 15 years in the wild, but outside the wild, a giraffe has lived to a maximum of 30 years. Giraffes spend most of their lives standing even while sleeping and giving birth and only need about 5 to 30 minutes of sleep per 24-hour period.
Though giraffes often appear uncoordinated and ungainly, they are very agile and can gallop at speeds between 30 and 60 miles per hour. Most of them will fight if necessary but usually will try to outrun a predator. They usually get a good head start on predators due to their great eyesight, as well as have a great view of the land around them because of their great height. Sometimes other animals congregate near the giraffes because if they see a giraffe get nervous, it is a sign that a predator is nearby. The other animals will run too.
Like many other mammals, giraffes are herbivores, meaning they only eat plants and do not eat meat. Their long necks and tongues, which they can stick out to about one and a half feet, help them eat the leaves off trees. Their favorite type of leaves is from the acacia tree. A full-grown adult will typically eat about 70 pounds of leaves, twigs, and fruit every day.
They do not drink lots of water because the acacia trees contain enough water for their survival. However, if they do drink water, giraffes can drink several gallons at one time. Giraffes must bend down low and close to the ground when drinking water which causes them to become vulnerable to predators like lions, leopards, and hyenas.
Unlike some other animals, giraffes are not endangered but many do live in protected areas. As of 2018, there are about 100,000 giraffes living in the world. Previously, though, they were nearly becoming extinct due to hunting by humans.
In summary, the giraffe is a unique and interesting animal and live throughout the continent of Africa in 15 different countries.
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