RETICULATED GIRAFFE (giraffe cameloparadalis)
Habitat: Africa, (Sub Saharan, in open woodlands and brush grasslands).
Height / Weight: Males: 15 to 17 feet / 1800 to 4000 pounds
Females: 13 to 15 feet / 1200 to 2500 pounds
Gestation: 14 1/2 to 15 months
Diet: Mainly leaves of the Acacia tree in the wild. In captivity, choice alfalfa hay, high Protein grain pellets with sliced apples and carrots as a special treat.
The giraffe is the world's tallest animal. Its long neck has 7 vertebrae like most other animals, but in elongated form. The long neck has special valves in it, which can control the flow of blood when the giraffe raises or lowers its head. This prevents blood rushing to the lowered head and causing a blackout or sudden rise in pressure. Giraffes have an unusually long prehensile tongue, which is used to pull leaves from Acacia trees while avoiding the thorns. Adult giraffes have few predators although prides of lions may occasionally bring one down with their combined effort. Giraffe calves are subject to predation by lions, leopards and hyenas, and less than half of them ever make it to their first year in the wild. The giraffes' beautiful spotted pattern is totally unique to each individual and like our fingerprints, allows each animal to be separately identified. While seeming highly visible in a captive situation, the giraffe seems to disappear when entering thick bushy woodlands in the wild, utilizing its protective coloration to totally break up its body outline. A single calf is born approximately every two years and is dependent on its mother until the new calf is born and may still accompany her for several more years. The Natural Bridge Zoological Park has raised many reticulated giraffes over the years and has been instrumental in placing them with other zoological institutions, which are involved with the propagation and preservation of this beautiful animal.