Giraffa camelopardalis

Being such a unique looking animal, the giraffe has a special place in many people’s hearts. Its name “giraffa” is derived from an Arabic word meaning fast-walker. When it was first observed by English-speaking people, it was thought to look like a camel with leopard-like colouring, hence the second part of its species name “camelopardalis”.

It has evolved over time with such unique characteristics in order to survive in the wilderness of Africa.  As the tallest animal in the world, it’s long neck enables it to reach food at the tops of the acacia trees, minimising it’s competition from other herbivores.  A very long tongue and flexible upper lip enable the giraffe to reach the crowns of small trees and nimbly pull leaves from amongst the thorns.  It even has horny papillae on its lips and tongue to further protect it from thorns!

Giraffe eating leaves

Like many even-hooved animals, the giraffe is a ruminant with 4 stomach chambers much like the cow.  Below you can see the giraffe chewing the cud it has regurgitated to further extract nutrients from the food it has digested.

Big ball of cud
Chewing the cud

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