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AWD's Miranda. Art by Elton Portilho.
Farsight, a fictional giraffe character in the webcomic Extinctioners.

The giraffe is a large even-toed hoofed mammal belonging to the genus Giraffa of the family Giraffidae, and it is the tallest living terrestrial animal (and the largest ruminant) on planet Earth.


Traditionally, giraffes were thought to be one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, with nine subspecies. However, researchers have proposed dividing them into up to eight extant species due to new research into their mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, as well as morphological measurements. Seven other extinct species of Giraffa are known from the fossil record. Its closest extant relative is the okapi.

The giraffe's chief distinguishing characteristics are its extremely long neck and legs, its horn-like ossicones (which are formed from ossified cartilage, covered in skin and fused to the skull at the parietal bones), and its spotted coat patterns. It possesses a black prehensile tongue that is about 18 inches (45 centimeters) long, and which can grasp foliage and delicately pick off leaves of tall trees and shrubs.

Although giraffes only need a drink of water every few days (with the rest of their water coming from leaves), their neck is too short to reach the ground, so they have to spread their legs and bend down in an awkward position that makes them vulnerable to predators.

Their scattered range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south, and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. Giraffes usually inhabit savannahs and woodlands, and their main food source are leaves, fruits, and flowers of woody plants, primarily acacia species, which they browse at heights most other herbivores cannot reach.

Giraffes live in herds of related females and their offspring or bachelor herds of unrelated adult males, but are gregarious and may gather in large aggregations. Males establish social hierarchies through "necking", combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon. Dominant males gain mating access to females, which bear sole responsibility for rearing the young.

It is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable to extinction and has been exterminated from many parts of their former range.

Giraffes in mainstream media/culture[edit]

Giraffes and furry[edit]

In the furry fandom, giraffes are the most common of the African herbivore species. Icelandic furry artist Karno's own fursona is a giraffe, in reference to Karno's own tall height.

Other furry artists keen on/or known for giraffe characters include Terrie Smith, Michele Light, Brenda DiAntonis, Chuck Davies, Andrew Dickman, and Marc Schirmeister

Known giraffes in furry fandom culture[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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