June 21st is World Giraffe Day and to celebrate, we have put together 5 fast facts about giraffes so we can all learn more about these majestic creatures.
Why June 21st? It has the longest day or night (depending on which side of the equator you’re on!) so quite a fitting day to celebrate the tallest living land animal. So here we go with our facts about these quirky yet beautiful creatures…
1. Giraffe and human necks have something in common.
Hard to believe but giraffes and humans both have seven vertebrae in their necks. Each giraffe bone is obviously much longer to form their magnificently long necks. While their necks may look really long, they don’t actually reach the ground and have to spread their legs awkwardly in order to drink water. Luckily they get most of their water through their plant based diet and only need to drink water once every several days.
2. They have big heart for lots of lovin’
A giraffe heart can weigh about 11kg (about 50 human hearts!). They need big hearts to withstand the high blood pressure needed to pump blood all the way up its long neck and to its brain.
3. They only need about 30 minutes sleep a day
They take short 1-2 minute naps and can even sleep while standing up which minimises their risk of being attacked by predators, The rest of their day is spent wandering sub-Saharan Africa feeding (what a life!)
4. They don’t smell like roses
Giraffe’s smell bad (sorry friends, we still love you!). Their fur releases a strong odour that acts as a chemical defence repelling parasites and acts as an antibiotic. So hold your nose if you ever plan on smooshing your face into a giraffe like everyone does with their dogs (or is that only us?).
5. They need our help
According to National Geographic, there has been a 40% decline in giraffe population between 1985 and 2015. Giraffes are killed for their coats, bones and meat and are also hunted for their tails which are status symbols in some communities. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), giraffes are now listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ and according to the Giraffe Conservation Fund, only 100,000 remain in the world. They are on a mission to help save the giraffe in Africa. You can read about their work here.