Here are a few facts about giraffes:
Even though a male giraffe can reach 19' in height, and a female 16', they have the same number of cervical vertebrae (bones in their necks) as humans - 7. Theirs are 11" long, ours are 1" long. And theirs are connected by ball and socket joints, such as the joints that connect our arms to our shoulders, allowing them a greater range of motion in their necks. Have you ever seen a video of two male giraffes fighting? Those ball and socket joints come in handy.
Mature male giraffes can weigh between 2,400 and 3,000 pounds, mature females 1,600 to 2,600 pounds.
Giraffes are very light sleepers. Some giraffes may sleep as little as 30 minutes a day. They usually sleep standing up, and may rest their head against a tree while they sleep. They need to be light sleepers as they are prey animals. Predators include lions and hyenas, which an adult giraffe can kill or maim with a kick from it's soup-bowl sized hooves.
How about this ninja move?
Giraffes do not need to drink every day. They obtain most of their water from the food they eat, and may only drink water every third day. They cannot kneel down to drink, as their knees are weak and cannot easily support their weight when bent. That is why they splay their front legs and bend their necks to drink. (Also why they usually sleep standing up.) The posture when drinking may look awkward, but it suits them. Even while drinking water, a giraffe needs to be alert and ready to run from predators.
There are special spigots in the blood vessels in their necks which close off to prevent a rush of blood to their brains which would otherwise cause cerebral hemorrhages when they lower their heads. Without this adaptation, a giraffe could suffer a fatal hemorrhage just from bending to grab a bite of food or a drink of water.
The skin on their legs fits very tightly to help push the blood through their bodies - much like the flight suits fighter pilots wear.
No two are exactly alike. They are all different, and special, and are one of nature's most spectacular creatures.
They might live 25 years in the wild, 30 or more in zoos or animal parks. Mortality rates are high for giraffe calves, with only about 50% surviving their first six months in the wild.
All of this is leading to something besides giraffic trivia.
It is just one more place for me to say, Happy Birthday, Giraffe!
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