World Giraffe Day (21 June)

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The World Giraffe Day is celebrated on 21 June every year; ironically, the day that celebrates the tallest mammal on the planet is also the longest day of the year.The World Giraffe Day was launched by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (G.C.F.) to raise awareness of these amiable creatures, of which only 97.000 thousand still live in the wild, making them an endangered species.

Giraffes can be easily identified thanks to their long necks and patterned skins. They belong to the Giraffidae family, with only two species remaining, both living in Africa; one of them lives in the savannas in east, middle, and south of Africa. The giraffe has numerous unique characteristics, first of which being the tallest mammal on Earth. The hight of the adult female giraffe ranges from 4 to 5 meters, whereas the male is relatively taller, reaching 6 meters; an average giraffe weights 1 ton.

Source: Link

Surprisingly, giraffes have only 7 cervical vertebrae, just like humans. How, then, do these 7 vertebrae give their 2-meter-long necks the needed flexibility? The answer is that these vertebrae are connected by ball-and-socket joints, similar to those in human shoulder and hip joints, which can move 360 degrees.

Giraffe skulls have two protrusions that look like horns and are known as ossicones, which are ossified (stiffened) cartilages. Ossicones are part and parcel of the skull; they do not grow separately like the horns of other animals such as gazelles. Giraffes have long tongues that could reach 53 cm long; their tongues and lips are designed to help them consume their favourite acacia trees, which other animals avoid due to their numerous spines.

It is worth mentioning that sleeping and drinking water are everyday challenges for giraffes because of their height; they spend most of their lives standing to avoid predatory attacks. Moreover, they cannot drink water easily because their long necks do not reach the ground; they get most of the hydration they need from the plants they eat, and drink water once every few days. Since it is difficult for giraffes to lay down and stand up quickly, they sleep less than any other animal, between 10 minutes and two hours daily; that is, 30 minutes in average.

A baby giraffe is known as a calf; gestation lasts 13-15 months. The mother giraffe gives birth standing since the baby is about 2 meters tall; this means that the calf falls to the ground from a height of 1.5 meter.

Usually, the calf is able to stand on its feet within 20 minutes and soon it feeds on its mother's milk.  A giraffe calf weights around 60 kg; it gets 3 cm taller daily during the first week, and its height doubles in its first year.

References

nationalgeographic.com

dkfindout.com

livescience.com

onekindplanet.org

giraffeconservation.org


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