The giraffe is an African mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal. The giraffe's chief distinguishing characteristics are its extremely long neck and legs, its horn-like ossicones, and its distinctive coat patterns. Giraffes usually inhabit savannahs and woodlands. Their food source is leaves, fruits and flowers of woody plants, primarily acacia species, which they browse at heights most other herbivores cannot reach.

Lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs may prey upon giraffes. Giraffes live in herds of related females and their offspring, or bachelor herds of unrelated adult males, but are gregarious and may gather in large aggregations. Males establish social hierarchies through "necking", which are combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon.

The name "giraffe" has its earliest known origins in the Arabic word "zarāfah", perhaps borrowed from the animal's Somali name "geri". The Arab name is translated as "fast-walker".

Giraffes have high adult survival probability, and an unusually long lifespan compared to other ruminants, up to 38 years.

With its lanky build and mottled coat, the giraffe has been a source of fascination throughout human history, and its image is widespread in culture. It has been used to symbolise flexibility, far-sightedness, femininity, fragility, passivity, grace, beauty and the continent of Africa itself.

More Info: