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Top 10 unusual facts and stories about giraffes



The giraffe is one of the most famous zoo and park animals. Nevertheless, giraffes still harbor surprising facts. The creatures can turn black or white at night and make inexplicable sounds. You even looked at a Chinese emperor in the 1400s.

There are weird things in her armpits, and a mysterious illness is noticeable in her legs. Although giraffes are threatened with extinction, conservation programs often decide whether to live or die.

10 There are four types

Until 2016 there was a giraffe species. For those who are more concerned with subtle differences between ossicons (head horns), coat patterns, and different habitats, there are nine subspecies. Since the classifications were made between 1758 and 1911, modern researchers considered the requirements unreliable because giraffes had not been studied as thoroughly as other large African mammals. To find out the truth, a five-year study first genetically examined all nine subspecies.

The DNA tests showed that the "nine" were actually four different species – the reticulated giraffe ( G). reticulata (19459012), Masai Giraffe (19459011), G. tippelskirchi (19459012), Northern Giraffe (19459011), G. camelopardalis (19459012) and Southern Giraffe (19459011). Since they do not breed with each other, the correct identification of species is a positive step forward to ensure the survival of all four species. [1]

9 The Imperial Giraffes

In the 1400s, Emperor Yongle of China wanted to investigate this world. He sent a fleet of ships on seven expeditions that made it to South Africa and landed on today's Cape of Good Hope. Yongle enjoyed collecting exotic animals, and foreign nations gave him rhinos, peacocks, elephants, and bears.

During the fourth expedition, the Chinese arrived in Bengal and met ambassadors from Malindi (Kenya). This presented a giraffe, which was immediately put on board one of the imperial ships. The size of the animal was not a problem. The ships that sailed during this expedition are still the largest wooden ships ever built.

Despite Yongle's large collection of weird animals, the giraffe impressed the Emperor so much that she was the only animal he drew from the court artist. The image added a mythical note, indicating that it was a Qilin – a creature comparable to the unicorn of the West.

A year later, a second giraffe arrived at the royal court. Despite the strange story of the animals, there is no record of what happened to the couple. [2]

8 They like carcasses

National Geographic Photographer Corinne Kendall visited a reserve a few years ago. Arriving in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, she took pictures of a macabre incident. Two adult giraffes were busy with a dead wildebeest. They not only mouthed the carcass, but occasionally threw it in the air.

This contradicted the image of the giraffe as a gentle herbivore. Experts reviewed the photos and found that the behavior was not as deviant as it first appeared. It was probably a case of osteophagia. In order to keep their own skeletons healthy, herbivores need calcium and phosphorus, which are not present in plants. [3]

For this reason, these mammals gnaw on bones. Recently, another giraffe was filmed licking the skull of a dead buffalo. One of the experts who assessed Kendall's paintings also reported National Geographic that during his fieldwork he regularly witnessed the fascination of giraffes for carcasses. About six times a year he met giraffes that gnawed on bones.

7 Birds sleep in their armpits

Snapshot Serengeti was a project that was carried out for years in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. These were camera traps that took pictures automatically when an animal moved nearby. Once a camera documented something that had never been seen before.

Researchers have always known that a brown bird called the Ox-beak favors giraffes and other large African mammals. The tiny creature removes ticks and even feeds on the host's blood, eye contact and nasal mucus. However, this activity was only observed during the day.

One night, a giraffe triggered one of the traps that required a series of snapshots. They showed that the armpits of the animal contained groups of sleeping ox-woodpeckers. Never before had anyone realized that the birds sometimes chose to sit overnight on what was basically their food source. The giraffe's gaiters were not only safe and warm, but also made sure they stayed with their host.

6 Males turn black

Giraffe types do something out of the ordinary. As they age, their blocks turn black. In 2012, curious researchers examined 36 men, all from the Luangwa Valley in Zambia. They knew the exact age of 10, and estimated the age of the others based on the darkness of their patterns.

The animal data had been collected over 33 years, providing a rich source of information about the color change and life of men. A calf weaned at the age of two, leaving his birthplace between four and eight years old.

The blackout only becomes apparent when the bulls turn seven or eight. The black starts in the middle of the brown spots and bleeds out to the edges. This process takes almost two years, and on average, at the age of 9.4 years, men have quite a few carbon black spots. [5]

Although the 2012 study was the first to set up a timeline, she could not find the cause. Since the change only occurs in men, it could have something to do with testosterone levels. Bulls mature about the age of 10, at the time their transformation is complete.

5 A Mysterious Disease

In 2014 Arthur Muneza had to select an animal to study for his master's degree at Michigan State University. Like many others, he looked at the popular elections – elephants and African predators. However, the biologist chose giraffes when he learned that they were suffering from a strange and unclear skin disease.

Giraffes are somewhat neglected in relation to megafauna studies. Even the suffering that may be contributing to the falling numbers has sometimes been referred to as giraffe skin disease (GSD).

Muneza was on fire, however. He dealt with previous research and cornered veterinarians as well as with zoo and park officials. He looked in older studies for symptoms, including lesions on the legs and neck. The areas are often gray, bloody and crusty.

Only eight sources mentioned something about it. The questionnaires he sent to those who worked with giraffes yielded only 63 answers. Zoos reported 14 cases of GSD in their captive specimens. Terrifyingly, the Ruaha National Park in Tanzania reported that 79 percent of their giraffes had the disease. [6]

Muneza's collaboration with experts is underway to find out what causes GSD, how it spreads and how it propagates can be cured.

4 Marius

In 2014, the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark considered lulling one of its giraffes. Since Marius was a healthy 18-month-old, thousands signed a petition to save his life until a new home could be set up. The reason for the zoo was that Marius could not add anything to his international breeding program. They also said they could not keep the growing male if it was to fight others.

Despite the local and international outcry to relocate the giraffe, the Copenhagen Zoo refused to do so. On a Sunday morning, an employee fed Marius with his favorite dish of rye bread and shot him. The giraffe was dismembered in front of visitors before its parts were distributed among the predators and research facilities of the zoo.

The death of Marius caused such anger that the zoo's staff received death threats against themselves and their families. Marius's short life and his public slaughter have highlighted something that is known to only a few citizens. It is a common practice for zoos to kill healthy animals if their genetics do not meet the breeding standards, if there is no space or if they attract no crowd. [7]

3 They are buzzing at night

Giraffes are silent creatures. In fact so quiet that scientists became suspicious. After all, they are herding with social structures. This strongly suggests a kind of communication that goes beyond occasional kicking and snorting.

In 2015, a strange hint was found in three European zoos. One theory was that giraffes chatter on frequencies that people can not hear. To test this, the researchers left recording devices near the enclosure of the creatures. After 1000-hour shots, the researchers found that giraffes make a noise – they hum.

The sound resembled something between a swarm of bees and monastic singing. The humming happened at a very low frequency, but still fell within the realm of human hearing. Even so, the Zoomit workers heard it for the first time as they listened to the tapes.

The exact purpose of the sound remains puzzling. Since this only happens at night, giraffes may stay in touch in the dark. It could also be a passive sound related to sleep, such as snoring or dreaming. [8]

2 Kenya's White Giraffes

In 2017, a villager in Kenya's Garissa district saw two White Giraffes. He told conservationists about the bleached couple, and soon the animals were tracked down. They lived best for such rare creatures – the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy.

The species was identified as an endangered reticulated giraffe. The two animals were also a family – a mother and her calf. When the cow noticed the Rangers, she hid her baby quietly in the bushes and stood between the child and the people standing a few feet away to film. [9]

It was not only the camera that captured the strange beauty of white giraffes, but it was also the first image of specimens with leukisma. This genetic condition prevents normal pigmentation within the skin cells. It differs from albinism in that dark pigment can still thrive in soft tissues, which is why mother and calf had dark eyes and some body color.

1 They are threatened with extinction

The plight of the African elephant is known. There are only about half a million wild animals left. Other than that, the elephant numbers for the remaining wild giraffe population look fantastic – 90,000. In the last 15 years, 40 percent of all species have died from habitat loss and poachers. Giraffes are extinct in seven African countries.

Despite these conspicuous warning signs, their official conservation status remains "least affected", in contrast to the "endangered" African elephants. However, there is hope in small bags.

In 2016, conservationists learned that oil was spotted in Uganda and prospectors were planning to move to Murchison Falls National Park. A particularly vulnerable group of giraffes only lived on one side of the Nile, and unfortunately the oil was on that side.

A daring mission dumped 20 of the awkward but dangerous animals on the ground, grabbed them on a ferry and freed them on the other side. The little herd not only flourished, but when the researchers followed them, they filmed an unfamiliar behavior for the first time. At night, the animals alternately looked for predators, while the rest slept like swans with their necks thrown over their backs. [10]



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