The tallest of all land mammals, giraffes’ long necks, which have the same number of bones as human beings, can be useful, but also a liability. They enable the animals to graze on the juicier leaves at the tops of trees, but also prevent them from lying down to sleep. Fortunately, they require very little sleep, napping several times a day for around just 10 minutes. On average, they sleep for less than 2 hours a day. A giraffe’s heart can weigh up to 10kg and measure about 60cm in length. It has to be able to pump blood up to the brain which is a very long way away!
Giraffes live for 20 – 25 years and, when breeding, have a single calf the size of a tall adult from a standing position. In the Zoo, they enjoy a diet of fruit, vegetables, browse, alfalfa and vitamin supplements, although onions are a favourite treat!
Blackpool Zoo has a group of female giraffes which will not be used for breeding in the future as they are from historically mixed bloodlines. Sadly, in the wild, they are threatened by illegal hunting, loss of habitat and the ongoing conflict between wildlife and humans.