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The giraffe is an African mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant. Its species name refers to its camel-like appearance and the patches of color on its fur. Its chief distinguishing characteristics are its extremely long neck and legs, its horn-like ossicones and its distinctive coat patterns. It stands (16–20 ft) tall and has an average weight of (3,500 lb) for males and (1,800 lb) for females. The nine subspecies are distinguished by their coat patterns.

The giraffe's scattered range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south, and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands. Their primary food source is acacia leaves, which they browse at heights most other herbivores cannot reach. Giraffes are preyed on by lions, and calves are also targeted by leopards, spotted hyenas and wild dogs. Dominant males gain mating access to females, which bear the sole responsibility for raising the young.

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Interesting facts

Monarch says: 18 Months Ago
The name giraffe is derived from the Arab word zarafa, which means 'the one who walks very fast'.

» The scientific name of the giraffe is Camelopardalis. The etymology of this name can be traced to a belief (which is untrue) that the giraffe was a cross between a camel (height) and a leopard (coat pattern).

» A male giraffe is called a bull, a female is called a cow, and a baby giraffe is called a calf.

» The species has only 9 members. These, including the Camelopardalis or Nubian mentioned above, are: Reticulated, Angolan, Kordofan, Masai, Rhodesian, Baringo/Rothschild/Ugandan, South African and West African/Nigerian.

» The average life span of a giraffe in the wild is between 20 to 25 years.

» Giraffes usually move in groups of about 30 - 35 individuals, usually mothers and their offspring. Males tend to get more solitary as they age and are generally not a part of a group.
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