Reticulated giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis reticulate

Reticulated giraffe are a giraffe subspecies that live in open woodlands and wooded grasslands in Somalia, northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. They are herbivores and live about 25 years in the wild. An estimated 100,000 giraffe live in Africa, primarily in game or wildlife preserves.

Did you know?

  • Giraffe are the earth's tallest mammals. Their legs are taller than many humans – about 6 feet.
  • They can run up to 35 mph over short distances and 10 mph over long distances.
  • A giraffe tongue is up to 21 inches long.
  • Reticulated giraffe can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies.
  • They have the same number of vertebrae as humans; but each vertebra is much longer.
  • Giraffe are usually silent but they can grunt or snort. Calves bleat.

Giraffe lingo

  • "Reticulated" refers to the pattern of the giraffe's skin. Reticular means "resembling a net in form."
  • Giraffes are ruminants: hoofed, usually horned mammals with a stomach divided into four compartments. Food is eaten and regurgitated in lumps when it's partly digested. These lumps, or cud, are chewed some more and swallowed again.

Giraffe behavior and facts

  • Reticulated giraffe are the most distinctively patterned of the eight subspecies of giraffe. This pattern is an adaptation that camouflages them in dense, dry vegetation.
  • Giraffe browse on flowers, fruits, herbs, leaves, seeds, new shoots and vines. Their long tongue pulls in thorns, insects and bark too. Their lips have adapted to be tough to withstand the food that passes by them.
  • Male giraffe can eat up to 75 pounds of browse in a day.
  • Humans are the primary predator; they hunt giraffe for meat, their tough and beautiful hide and their extremely strong hair-- used to make ropes, jewelry and fly swatters.
  • Because of their size and ability to detect predators, adult giraffe are not very vulnerable to predation. Calves, however, have a 58 percent mortality rate, mostly due to lions, as well as African wild dogs, hyenas and leopards. Crocodiles have killed giraffe at watering holes.
  • Giraffe have a symbiotic relationship (both animals benefit) with birds such as the oxpecker. It sits on the giraffe's back and alerts it to predators. Oxpeckers also eat mites and dirt off the giraffe, keeping it clean.

From birth to death

  • Males battle for breeding rights; only the top males breed. No one usually gets hurt.
  • Males reach sexual maturity at 3.5 years; females at 4 years.
  • Gestation: 15 months
  • Giraffe use the same birth sites over the course of generations.
  • Females stand while giving birth; calves drop about 5 feet to the ground.
  • Calves weigh up to 200 pounds at birth. They can begin to run with their mother about 10 hours later.
  • Giraffe mothers are fierce defenders of their calves and generally give birth every other year.

Vital statistics

  • Males: up to 18 feet tall and 1,765 to 4,255 pounds.
  • Females: up to 13 to 15 feet tall and 1,215 to 2,600 pounds.


Giraffe are not listed as endangered.

Giraffes, the Oregon Zoo and you

The Oregon Zoo's giraffe, Bakari, lives in the Africa Savanna Exhibit. Born in 2007, he enjoys a daily diet of alfalfa, hay and grains and can often be seen chewing its cud.

Giraffe at the Oregon Zoo


Bakari is a male reticulated giraffe born on Sept. 17, 2007. He arrived at the Oregon Zoo on Nov. 12, 2009. Bakari likes carrots as a treat, but fresh browse is his favorite...


Desi is a 10-foot-tall male reticulated giraffe born on September 10, 2010 at the St. Louis Zoo. He arrived at the Oregon Zoo when he was two. Desi made the big move to Portland in an extra-tall trailer equipped with a video camera so keepers could make sure he was safe inside. Once here, he spent his first month adjusting to his new home...