Giraffidae


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Related to Giraffidae: Giraffa, Antilocapridae, Moschidae

Giraffidae

[jə′raf·ə‚dē]
(vertebrate zoology)
A family of pecoran ruminants in the superfamily Bovoidea including giraffe, okapi, and relatives.

Giraffidae

 

a family of ruminant mammals of the order Artiodactyla. There are two genera: Giraffa and Okapi. The genus Giraffa consists of a single species, the common giraffe.

The common giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a large animal with a short trunk on long legs (the front legs are longer than the hind ones). Height at withers, approximately 3.7 m. The neck is long, and the head is small with tiny skin-covered horns. Weight, 550–800 kg; height, 5–6 m. The main body color is light yellow with dark variegated cinnamon brown spots. The coat pattern varies from one part of its range to another; this is the basis for distinguishing several subspecies.

The giraffe is found in Africa where it lives in open steppes (savannas) with sparse trees and shrubs. Giraffes stay in small herds of 12–15 individuals (sometimes as many as 70). They feed mainly on the leaves and branches of various acacias.

Gestation is about 14 months; one young is usually produced at birth. Giraffe meat is used for food and its hide for making various articles. Giraffes have been largely exterminated by hunting; they have disappeared entirely in some parts of Africa. They are preserved primarily in national parks.

V. G. GEPTNER