Giraffes may live in a herd of 30-50 individuals. Males will often fight over females by kicking or striking each other with the special "horns" on their head, called ossicones. Giraffes have these ossicones from birth, making them the only animals that don’t grow their horns later in life.
Giraffes are known to eat leaves from the thorny acacia tree. Their 18-inch tongue is dark purple to protect from sunburn, and covered in slime to protect from harsh thorns. A male giraffe may eat as much as 70 lbs. of vegetation in a single day. Giraffes are similar to cows in that they chew their cud (regurgitated food) after eating and then re- swallow it for digestion.
Weather permitting, guests may feed the giraffes for $5.00. The giraffe feeding station is open from 10:00 a.m.-11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.-3:00 p.m. daily.
Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata
Distribution: Arid plains of northern and eastern Kenya. Some populations may remain in southern Ethiopia and south-western Somalia.
Diet in the Wild: Acacia leaves
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Alfalfa, grain and varied fruits and vegetables
Height: Up to 14 ft (4.3m) for females, up to 18 ft (5.5m) for males
Weight: Up to 1,500 lbs (680 kg) for females, up to 3,000 lbs (1361 kg) for males
IUCN Red List Status: Endangered, population decreasing
Threats: Habitat fragmentation and loss due to agriculture and development; poaching
Despite the length of a giraffe’s neck, it still only has 7 neck vertebrae, just a human neck. Unlike a human neck, however, each vertebra can be longer than 10in (25.4 cm).
One way that the reticulated giraffe can be distinguished from other giraffe subspecies is their patterning. Reticulated giraffes have a dark coat broken up by thin white lines, while masai giraffes are patterned with oak-leave-like patches and Rothschild’s giraffes are patterned with irregular brown patches separated with thick beige lines.
Marjani was a shy boy when he arrived from the Bronx Zoo in 2014, but he has grown a lot over past few years and loves human interaction more than ever. He is a Rothchild giraffe, meaning he has both different colors & pattern variations than our females. He is a smart, young giraffe who loves to train with his keepers and is usually the giraffe eating lettuce from zoo guests at the feeding deck. Some of his quirks include flapping his ears and getting his nose into places it doesn’t belong! His favorite foods are carrots and sweet potatoes, although he also enjoys his alfalfa hay and grain! His name in Swahili means “Coral.”
Nyela is known as the giraffe that is always sticking her tongue out. Whether she’s training with her keepers or eating lettuce at the feeding station, odds are her tongue is out. When on exhibit, she usually can be found overlooking the serpentine walkway; we like to call her the “watch guard” of the zoo because she’s always staring at people. When she gets fed, her tongue wraps around the food and she will eat as much food as you can give her. Nyela loves puzzle feeders filled with carrots, apples, and sweet potatoes. Nyela’s name is Swahili for “One Who Succeeds.”
Cricket is considered to be our food hog! She is always the first one to eat the browse, grain, and puzzle feeders. She loves to train with her keepers and learns very quickly. If you get your head too close to her face, she will lick you aggressively with her tongue, which can hurt more times than not since her tongue is very rough. She mostly loves carrots and sweet potatoes over any other produce. Cricket is originally from the Denver Zoo and came to the Caldwell Zoo around 2011, where she later gave birth in 2014 to her first calf, Knox.