Rothschild’s Giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi

Rothschild’s giraffes live in large herds in their native home of Africa with up to 50 animals. Their fur pattern is used for camouflage and thermal regulation and is similar to the bark structure of indigenous trees and the shadow play of their leaves. With their blue, up to 50 cm-long tongue, giraffes have no trouble reaching the most delicious leaves in the highest treetops.

Flexible social life

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.


  • Origin

    Africa: North Uganda, west Kenya, south-east Sudan – now only in national reserves

  • Habitat

    Tree and bush savannahs

  • Diet

    Foliage, fresh shoots of trees, acacia trees preferred

  • Status

    less than 1,100

  • Size

    Bulls: up to 5.80 m
    Cows: up to 4.50 m

  • Weight

    Bulls up to 1.8 t
    Cows up to 1.2 t

  • Gestation period

    15 months

  • Achievable age

    up to 25 years in the wild, up to 35 years in human care

Threat Categories of IUCN

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.


Did you know that ...

... giraffes only sleep deeply for about 30 minutes a day, a time in which they are utterly defenceless,
... they live in extended families with one male,
... they give birth while standing up, so a calf tumbles into the group from a height of about 2 metres?

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Opening hours

Today, 27. May
9:00 - 18:30
Last admission: 17:00
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Feedings & Trainings

  • Polar bear talk 11:00
  • Giraffe-Talk 12:30
All feedings