Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi
A giraffe’s patches or spot patterns are as unique as human fingerprints.
Did you know the giraffe’s tongue is black? The Masai giraffe relies on its long, muscular tongue for reaching between long thorns to feed on tender tree leaves and twigs.
STATUS: The Masai giraffe is common and not currently at risk, but the herds are dependent on good conservation programs throughout their range.
HABITAT: Masai giraffes live on the African savannahs of Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa.
DIET: Giraffes can spend 16 to 20 hours a day browsing on leaves, twigs, bark, flowers, and fruit from more than 60 different kinds of plants. They can go without water for several months if they have enough fresh browse. The whistling-thorn acacia is one of their favorites!
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Giraffes are the tallest land mammal, and Masai giraffes can grow up to 17 feet tall and weigh 2,700 pounds. Because of its long legs and long neck, the giraffe doesn’t have to compete with other animals for its food. The Masai giraffe is identified by its lacy-edged or irregular spot pattern. Both males and females may have two to five horns covered with skin growing out of the top of the skull.
A baby weighs in at about 150 pounds and is already six feet tall. The calf needs to stand shortly after birth because only 25% of the young survive attacks the first year from lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. An adult giraffe is rarely attacked and may live up to 25 years.
Giraffes are able to swing their great necks around and thump their horns into another’s body. Called “necking,” the older bulls have necking contests to determine which ones will mate with the females. The younger males “neck” to test their weight and strength. Necking seldom results in serious injury.