Rothschild's giraffe

(Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi)

The Rothschild's giraffe is considered one of largest subspecies of giraffe and is native to Uganda and Kenya, which is why it's also called the Ugandan giraffe or Baringo giraffe (after the lake in Kenya).


Africa, sub-Saharan: Kenya, Uganda

Tree and bush savannahs

Foliage, fresh shoots of trees, acacia trees preferred

less than 1,100

Bulls up to 5.80 m, cows up to 4.50 m

Bulls up 1.8 t, cows up to 1.2 t

Brooding/gestation time:
15 months

Achievable age
35 years in human care, 25 years in the wild

What you should know about giraffes

Giraffes can be found as both lone animals as well as living in casual groups. The bulls live in male groups or as loners. The bulls live in the female herds only for as long as they live with their mothers. This can also amount to several. The mature bulls only join the herds briefly to search for a female. As daytime and nocturnal animals, the giraffes wander through the savannah constantly looking for feeding sites without claiming their own grounds. This is partly due to the fact that female giraffes frequently join new herds meaning that there are fixed groups.

Rugged start to life

A female giraffe gives birth while standing and as a result, her calf falls from a height of around two meters. This is literally a hard introduction to life for the calf, which is why there is always a lot of hay in the zoo ready to break the fall on the otherwise slippery ground and to avoid injury from slipping. It's able to stand up after around an hour after birth and even run a little later on.

Giraffe tongue – a tough eating utensil

Giraffe enjoy eating the new shoots of acacia trees the most. You shouldn't just be taken aback by its spine, because it's 25–50 cm long blue tongue has grown into something quite robust over the course of time. Giraffes wrap their tongue around the branches very skillfully to strip off the leaves, allowing them to devour up to 80 kg of food per day.

On the go with stilts

When the going gets tough, giraffes can reach speeds of over 50 km/h with their long legs. They rarely lie down to sleep and only rest for a short time and preferably in a standing position, this is because they are vulnerable to attack when they are lying down. They spread their front legs wide apart when drinking at the waterhole, in order to fully reach the ground with their heads. Their stilts are even used to successfully defend against predators because even a single hoof kick to the head is enough to fatally wound a lion.

Is it true, that ...?

Many assume that giraffes have more cervical vertebra in their neck, which stretches over two metres, than other mammals. This is, however, not the case. Giraffes have seven cervical vertebrae, exactly the same amount as us humans; it is only that theirs are very highly extended. This gives the giraffe the advantage of reaching the leaves on even the largest trees compared to smaller animals. Also practical: the good view from above and their extremely good eyes allow giraffes to identify approaching enemies from afar.

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