So I thought long and hard about what my favourite person, place, thing or animal was for the #weekendchallenge and for some reason I couldn't think of any one person or place that really stood out in my mind (I guess I have a lot of heroes and favorite places) and then I saw the screen saver on my computer (which is a photo of a giraffe) and decided to write a post about giraffes. To me, they are one of the most beautiful and unique animals in the animal kingdom with their long necks, dappled fur and gorgeous long eyelashes.





So here are a few weird and wonderful facts (and photos) about giraffes:

Unbeknownst to most, there are actually nine recognized subspecies of giraffe. They are: the Nigerian giraffe, the Nubian giraffe, Baringo giraffe, Masai giraffe, Reticulated giraffe , Thornicroft's giraffe, Kordofan giraffe, Angolan giraffe, and the Southern giraffe.

A giraffe is able to clean its ears with its own tongue. How? Because it's tongue measures nearly 2 FEET long.

Giraffes live for 10-15 years in the wild, but average 25 years at zoos.



It's difficult to see a giraffesleeping, simply because he gets so little of it! Ever vigilant for predators, giraffes just sleep for a few minutes at a time, and usually only get about 30 minutes total in a single day.

Giraffes can eat up to 77 pounds (35 kilograms) of food every day. They do not eat meat, but prefer the leaves and tender shoots of trees and shrubs. Their favorite meal, the leaves and twigs of the thorny acacia tree, have all the nutrients a growing giraffe needs, except for calcium and salt. The leaves also contain a lot of water, making water holes much less of a necessity.

The giraffe can drink 12 gallons in one setting.



A giraffe can go without water longer than a camel can. Giraffes can go for days without water, which actually protects them from some of the dangers that more water dependent animals have. This is because predators, such as lions, frequent water holes, knowing that their prey must come to drink. By avoiding those places as much as possible, giraffes improve their chances for survival.

Newborn giraffe calves begin their lives by falling 6 feet to the ground



A baby giraffe is about six feet tall at birth.

Ever see a fainting giraffe? If a giraffe's neck didn't contain pumping ventricles in its neck as well as its heart, then the animal would black out every time it raised its head to eat. A giraffe's heart is very big and very busy, pumping up to 20 gallons (75 liters) of blood every minute, and weighing up to 25 pounds (11 kilograms).

Thinking that its parents were a camel and a leopard, the Europeans once called the animal a "camelopard."

Seeing spots? Did you know that the spots on each giraffe are distinctive to that animal alone? Because of this, people who are familiar with giraffes (such as researchers), can often identify each animal merely by recognizing their spot patterns.



The giraffe gets its name from the Arabic word "Xirapha," which means, "one who walks swiftly." Giraffes not only walk swiftly, but they run swiftly, as well. They have been recorded running as fast as 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour)! To put that in perspective, humans run on average 10 miles an hour (16 kilometers). Since giraffes tire easily, they are unable to sustain these high speeds for very long, but can use these brief spurts of speed to help evade predators, such as lions.

Giraffes cannot cough.

And now for my favorite piece of giraffe trivia:



In Atlanta, Georgia, it is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp. (WTF?!?!)