Paignton Zoo is home to an all-female herd of giraffes: Janica, Otilie, Joanna, Eliska and Florrie.
This giraffe subspecies, also known as the Baringo giraffe, is native to savannahs, open woodlands and grasslands of Kenya and Uganda, Africa.
All giraffes are herbivores and their long necks are specially adapted to reach the leaves of tall trees such as the acacia. They can also eat fruit, shoots and browse.
- Each giraffe has their own beautiful markings, which can help to tell apart individuals. The Rothschild’s giraffe specifically also exhibits no brown patch markings below the knee on the lower leg.
- The only relative of the giraffe in the Giraffidae family is the okapi – another long-necked mammal native to Africa.
- A giraffe’s powerful tongue can be up to 20 inches long. It is a dark colour to help protect it from sunburn!
- Giraffes can mate at any time of year, and after a very long gestation of 14 to 16 months females give birth to a single calf. The calf is already around 6 foot tall when born.
Poaching and degradation of their habitat are the main reasons that this species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, although their numbers are thought to be much lower than their current assessment. Many Rothschild’s giraffes are kept in protected areas for their preservation, but it is still vital to breed and learn more about this species within zoological collections.
Our giraffes are involved in the EAZA ex-situ breeding programme (EEP) for the species.