ANIMAL FACTS - Giraffe
Giraffes have a prehensile tongue which they use like fingers by curling it around the leaves to pluck them easily from the branch. Their tongue is very long– growing up to 40cm in length!
Giraffes are the tallest land animal in existence. Males reach heights of 5.5 meters (18 ft) and weigh up to 1900kg. At birth, calves are approx 1.8 meters (6ft) tall and weigh approximately 50-55kg. Giraffes have extremely long necks which they use to reach browse high in the trees. Surprisingly, they have only seven vertebrae in their neck - the same as humans, mice and most other mammals! However, the vertebrae in a giraffe’s neck are far more elongated.
Giraffes are native to Africa and are reasonably widespread. They are found in open woodlands and savannah habitats.
A very long neck allows giraffes to reach all the leaves that the smaller browsing animals cannot. In fact, the only competition giraffes have for food is the elephant which can use its trunk to reach branches, or simply push the tree over! Giraffes are selective browsers feeding mainly from varieties of Acacia and Combretum plant species. From time to time, they are seen eating vines, herbs or even chewing on bones for extra minerals. They spend a whopping 16-20 hours-per-day browsing. Giraffes have a prehensile tongue which they use like fingers by curling it around the leaves to pluck them easily from the branch. Their tongue is very long– growing up to 40cm in length!
Giraffes are quiet animals and generally rely on sight as their primary sense. However, they do possess vocal chords which allow them to make a variety of sounds. Adults bellow, grunt and make a whistling noise, while calves bleat and moo. They are also able to communicate with infra-sound; a low frequency sound which is undetectable to humans.
Forrest is a lucky boy as he is the token male in the giraffe herd of seven at Australia Zoo. He is the proud father of three beautiful girls, Skye, Lily and Tulip. These calves can be easily spotted on the savannah as they’re much shorter than the rest of the herd.
Forrest was born in 2007, and came to Australia Zoo in May 2009, all the way from Auckland Zoo in New Zealand. Although he stands much taller than the females, it is likely he still has a bit of growing to do. He could get taller and could potentially weigh as much as 1900kg when fully grown!
Forrest became a first-time father in October 2013 when baby Skye was born to mother Rosie. Sally and Penny gave birth to Forrest’s second and third daughters Tulip and Lily in mid-2014 and he has continued to mature with fatherhood.
When he was younger, Forrest could be demanding around food if not fed fast enough. However, these days he is much more relaxed and is a doting father to Skye, Lily and Tulip.
Penny is a proud first-time mum to baby Lily, born in August 2014! Penny was the first giraffe ever to call Australia Zoo her home and she is also the first ever giraffe to live in Queensland. As if she needed anything else to make her special...
Penny was born at Perth Zoo and came here to us in May 2009, joined shortly after by male giraffe, Forrest.
Penny is a cheeky character, and if any of our giraffes are up to mischief - you can almost guarantee it will be Penny! She likes to be first for training and first to eat, but unfortunately missed out on being first to give birth in our giraffe herd.
Next time you're visiting the Africa exhibit, keep your eye out for Penny by looking for a butterfly-shaped pattern on her chest – and don’t forget to look out for her beautiful daughter, Lily, who can be seen hanging around with sisters Skye and Tulip.
Rosie is Australia Zoo’s friendly, mother-of-one to Skye, and she’s proven to be a loving mum for her little one!
After arriving from Monarto Zoo in South Australia in 2009, Rosie quickly warmed to keepers and is easily the most confident female giraffe. She loves her food and enjoys interacting with guests during the encounter, where they are of course...feeding her!
Recognisable by her pale appearance and pastel orange spots, Sally is shy but sweet in nature. Sally is also a mother-of-one to Tulip, born here at Australia Zoo in July 2014.
While giraffe can often be bossy around feeding time, keepers observe Sally letting the other giraffe go first. Sally is happy to wait her turn for food, and has excellent manners to pass on to her daughter.
Sally came to Australia Zoo in 2011 from Monarto Zoo in South Australia. Australia Zoo keepers have enjoyed building trust with Sally and note that her training is progressing well.
My name is Skye and I am Australia Zoo’s first ever giraffe baby, I was born in October 2013.
I am the daughter of mum Rosie and dad Forrest. I have been surrounded by affection by everyone since I was born and am now joined by my two younger sisters who I enjoy bonding with on the African Savannah.
My keepers adore me and think I am truly gorgeous! I can often be seen hanging back while the other giraffes rush over to the food. But not to worry, I don’t miss out – in fact I end up with food all to myself by simply waiting back!