13 fascinating facts about giraffe:

  1. There are four distinct species of giraffe: Northern giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, Southern giraffe giraffa, Reticulated giraffe G. reticulata and Masai giraffe G. tippelskirchi.
  2. Giraffe are already extinct in at least seven countries in Africa.
  3. Just like human fingerprints, no two giraffe have the same coat pattern.
  4. Giraffe feet are the size of a dinner plate with a diameter of 30 cm.
  5. Giraffe tongues are bluish-purple and between 45 and 50 cm long.
  6. Both male and female giraffe have horns already at birth. These ossicones lie flat and are not attached to the skull to avoid injury at birth. They only fuse with the skull later in life.
  7. The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world. Even newborn giraffe are taller than most humans.
  8. Female giraffe give birth standing up. Their young fall about 2 m to the ground and can stand up within an hour of birth.
  9. In some populations, over 50% of all giraffe calves do not survive their first year.
  10. A giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. To drink, giraffe first have to splay their forelegs and/or bend their knees, and only then can they lower their necks to reach the surface of the water.
  11. Giraffe only drink once every few days. Even when water is readily available, evidence shows that many giraffe do not drink regularly – sometimes not at all.
  12. To protect the giraffe’s brain from sudden changes in blood pressure when it lowers its head to drink, it has valves to stop the back-flow of blood and elastic-walled vessels that dilate and constrict to manage flow. NASA has done research on the blood vessels in giraffe legs to get inspiration for human space suits.
  13. A giraffe heart weighs approximately 11 kilograms and is the biggest of any land mammal. It is used to pump 60 litres of blood around its body every minute at a blood pressure twice that of an average human.
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