The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant. Its specific name refers to its camel-like face and patches of color on a light background, which bear a vague resemblance to a leopard's spots.

The giraffe is noted for its extremely long neck and legs and unusual horns. It stands 5-6 m (16-20 ft) tall and has an average weight of 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) for males and 830 kg (1,800 lb) for females. It is classified under the family Giraffidae, along with its closest extant relative, the okapi. There are nine subspecies, which are distinguished by their coat patterns.

The giraffe's scattered range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south, and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands. They prefer areas with plenty of acacia trees, which are important food sources, and can browse at heights that most other herbivores cannot reach.

While adults are nearly invulnerable to predation, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and wild dogs prey on calves. Giraffes commonly gather in aggregations that usually disband every few hours. Males establish social hierarchies through "necking", which are combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon. Dominant males gain mating access to females, who bear the sole responsibility for raising the young.

The giraffe has intrigued various cultures, both ancient and modern, for its peculiar appearance, and has often been featured in paintings, books and cartoons. It is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Least Concern, but has been extirpated from many parts of its former range, and some subspecies are classified as Endangered. Nevertheless, giraffes are still found in numerous game reserves. Read more

Giraffe Constellation

Camelopardalis is a large but faint constellation in the northern sky. The constellation was introduced in 1612 by Petrus Plancius. Some older astronomy books give an alternative spelling of the name, Camelopardus. First attested in English in 1785, the word camelopardalis comes from the Latin and it is the romanization of the Greek meaning "giraffe", "camel", due to its having a long neck like a camel and spots like a leopard.


The giraffe is a messenger, encouraging us to stretch our vision and consciousness, to reach as far as we can on the tree of life. The giraffe represents, higher perception and vision as you quest for answers, patience, elegance, gracefulness, intelligence, intuition, protection, gentleness of spirit, resourcefulness, cleverness, intelligent, and beauty.

In the News ...

  Rare white giraffes are spotted in Kenya and captured on video for the first time   Daily Mail - September 14, 2017

The footage of the distinctive giraffes was filmed in the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservacy in Kenya's Garissa county by conservationists after locals tipped them off.

How Do Giraffes Stay So Cool? Perhaps the Secret Is a Long Neck   Smithsonian - September 14, 2017

Reaching high-up food may not have been the only or even main reason giraffes evolved to have long necks, as new research suggests that these extended body parts help the animals keep cool in the hot African savannah.

  April the giraffe finally had her baby. It's a boy.   Washington Post - April 17, 2017

An approximately six-foot tall infant giraffe fell into the world Saturday in a shower of amniotic fluid and catharsis, as more than 1 million people watched the end of a long and virally popular pregnancy. "It's a boy!!!" Animal Adventure Park announced, as April the giraffe's newborn son wobbled around after her in an upstate New York pen. And it's here.

Giraffes facing 'silent extinction' as population plunges   BBC - December 8, 2016

A dramatic drop in giraffe populations over the past 30 years has seen the world's tallest land mammal classified as vulnerable to extinction. Numbers have gone from around 155,000 in 1985 to 97,000 in 2015 according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The iconic animal has declined because of habitat loss, poaching and civil unrest in many parts of Africa. Some populations are growing, mainly in southern parts of the continent. Until now, the conservation status of giraffes was considered of "least concern" by the IUCN.

Giraffe genetic secret: Four species of tallest mammal identified   BBC - September 8, 2016

This is a clear indication that they have evolved into distinct species.

Extremely Rare White Giraffe Spotted - What Would You Name Her?   National Geographic - January 26, 2016

Omo the white giraffe, as seen recently with her herd in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park. Scientists at the New Hampshire-based wildlife-research group Wild Nature Institute originally reported the newborn Masai giraffe calf in 2015, around the time a local tour guide named her Omo, after a popular local brand of detergent.

How the Giraffe Got Its Iconic Neck   Live Science - October 7, 2015
The age-old question of how the giraffe got its long neck may now be at least partly answered: Long necks were present in giraffe ancestors that lived at least 16 million years ago, a new study finds. In the study, researchers examined the cervical (neck) vertebrae from 71 animals, including modern giraffes, their relatives and their ancient ancestors. They found that two species - Prodremotherium elongatum, which lived 25 million years ago and was potentially an ancestor of modern giraffes, and Canthumeryx sirtensis, which was a giraffe ancestor that lived 16 million years ago - both had elongated necks. These ancient animals were different enough from their modern counterparts that they are not classified as part of the giraffe family. Therefore, the fossils indicate that "cervical lengthening precedes Giraffidae," the researchers wrote in the study, using the scientific name for the giraffe family.

Giraffes spend their evenings humming to each other   New Scientist - September 18, 2015

We are familiar with many animal sounds - a lion's roar, a dog's bark, a parrot's squawk - but what sound comes to mind when you think of a giraffe? The long-necked beasts make basic sounds like snorts or bursts through their nose, but nothing you could identify with a nice label - until now. Biologists say they have discovered that giraffes hum. They had earlier speculated that giraffes are unable to produce any substantial sounds because it is physically difficult for them to generate sufficient air flow through their long necks to produce vocalizations. Others have suggested giraffes use low frequency infrasonic sounds - sounds below the level of human perception - much like elephants and other large animals do for long-range communication.

How Giraffes Stand on Their Spindly Legs   Live Science - July 10, 2014
A giraffe's skinny legs look like they could collapse at any second under the animal's immense weight. But new research has revealed what makes their stems sturdy enough to support a 2,200-lb. (1,000 kilograms) body. Besides having elongated leg bones, giraffes are equipped with pieces of connective tissue, called suspensory ligaments, to help hold them up. Relying on a suspensory ligament - which is made of elastic tissue, not muscle - allows giraffes to conserve energy: They don't have to engage as much muscle to support their weight. The researchers also think the ligament prevents the foot joints from overextending and collapsing.

Aging Male Giraffes Go Black, Not Gray   Live Science - April 14, 2012

Male giraffes become more illustrious with age, but rather than the silvery locks that distinguish the likes of Sean Connery and George Clooney, the hairy blotches on these long-necked mammals darken with age. Now research suggests the appearance change takes about 1.8 years to complete, with male giraffes being completely covered in coal-black blotches by an average age of 9.4 years.

Gemina the 'crooked-necked giraffe' dies AP - January 11, 2008
Gemina, a giraffe with a distinctive crooked neck and one of the most beloved animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo, has died. She was 21. Her illness was not believed related to her neck condition. Her demise is consistent with the challenges of old age. "Though a few giraffes in captivity have been known to live into their late-twenties, reaching age 21 is considered an achievement," said zoo CEO and Director Rich Block said. "She was a great animal ambassador, showing that differences can be accepted and even celebrated. She will be missed." The giraffe was born July 16, 1986, at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and was brought to Santa Barbara when she was about a year old. She was around 3 when she began to develop a crooked neck that eventually bent sharply and made it appear that she had swallowed a hockey stick. Although her neck was X-rayed, the cause of the condition was never conclusively found. It did not affect her eating and she was treated normally by other giraffes, the zoo said. Gemina (pronounced Jeh-MEE-nah) had one offspring that died some years ago.

Crooked Neck Giraffe, Gemina YouTube

Not one but 'six giraffe species'   Live Science - December 21, 2007
What was thought to be one species of giraffe might actually be several, scientists said today, raising concern that one or more of the species could be on the brink of extinction. A genetic study suggests there are six or more species in a region of Africa thought to have one.

Rare White Giraffe Photographed in Tanzia, Africa National Geographic - September 9, 2005

He had only a ghost of a chance, but after more than a decade of searching, a wildlife researcher has captured proof of a white giraffe. In this photo released September 6, the unusual beast and its companions stroll through a wilderness preserve in the African country of Tanzania. Charles Foley of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) first heard reports of the white giraffe in Tarangire National Park in 1993. For 12 years he kept an eye out for the living legend while conducting his daily business of studying the park's savanna elephant populations. "By 1994 the sightings stopped coming in, so I assumed it had died, either at the hand of man or beast," Foley said in a WCS press release. "I never stopped looking though.