Specific Purpose: To inform students everything they ever needed to know about giraffes. Central Idea: Giraffes are one of the most interesting mammals out there and there are many reasons why including their anatomy and appearance, their behavior and lifestyle, and their distribution and habitat. Introduction
Attention Material: Ever since I was a little girl, I have gone to the buffalo zoo every summer. I have always been completely and utterly mesmerized by the huge animals to the right of the zoo entrance. Every time I go, still to this day, it takes a lot to persuade me to leave that exhibit. There is something so magical about these giant creatures. Something extremely intriguing. The way that they stand so tall, and present themselves so calmly. It’s almost calming just to be around this animal. Reveal the Topic: This animal I am talking about is the giraffe. Credibility: I have done extensive research on these animals over the past few weeks and I have always had a passion for them. Preview the Body: Today I will tell you how interesting the anatomy and appearance of the giraffe, their lifestyle, and their habitat can be.
Let’s start with the anatomy and appearance of the giraffe. The giraffe’s outside appearance is what makes this animal so recognizable. There is no other animal like it. a. Everyone recognizes the giraffe by its coat. Each giraffe has whiteish yellow skin with brownish or reddish markings that cover the entire body except for their lower legs. Each giraffe has unique markings that are unique to that individual and to their species of giraffe. Just like there are no two snowflakes that are the same, there are no two giraffes that are the same. These spots vary in size, shape, color, and amount of white that is around them.
b. Giraffes have the greatest range of vision of any land animal, this is partly due to how tall they are.
c. Their height is used to their advantage. Worlds tallest mammal! They grow to about 20 feet tall. That would be like taking four of me and stacking them on top of each other! The proportion of their body is 9 feet long for their neck and head, 5 feet for their torso, and 6 feet for their legs! They use their height and their 21 inch black tongue to reach the highest of branches.
The giraffes anatomy is very unique as well.
a. Would you believe me if I said that a giraffes neck has the same number of vertebrae that you do? Well we both have 7 vertebrae. The giraffe just has longer and larger vertebrae!
b. Giraffes also have incredible weight to carry around. Their heart weighs 25 lbs, and their neck weighs 550 lbs alone. Giraffes weigh on average anywhere from 1500 to 4250 lbs.
c. Female giraffes have a gestation period of 15 months. When they give birth, they have to do it standing up and the baby will fall 5 to 6 feet to the ground. It can stand within 30 minutes, and within a half of day it will run across the savannah with its mother. The second thing that makes giraffes so interesting is its lifestyle. The giraffes behavior and lifestyle are kind of grouped together. a. The giraffes large size means it must spend most of its time eating. On average, a giraffe consumes 77 lbs of food a day. They are herbivores and live on leaves from up to 60 different species of plants and trees but the most common tree for them to eat from is the Acacia tree. The giraffe first catches a branch in its mouth. It then pulls back its head to get a mouthful of leaves. They feed anywhere from 16 to 20 hours a day.
b. The giraffe gets 70% of their water intake from their food so they have to drink very little. To drink they have to spread their legs and bend over just to get their head close enough to the ground to drink. This puts them in a vulnerable position to their biggest threats the lion and the crocodile. These animals can drink 12 gallons of water in 1 sitting. They only need to drink water every couple days though. They can go longer than camels can without water!
c. Giraffe are most active in the early morning and late afternoon but also feed at night in bright moonlight. However, unlike many of Africa’s wild animals that “disappear” under shady trees during the heat of the day, the giraffe continues browsing and because of their size, they can be spotted throughout daylight hours. They just try to stay out of the heat of the day.
d. They get 30 minutes of sleep each day. They only sleep for about 5 minutes at a time as well.
e. There is a myth that says Giraffe are usually silent. This is not true, they bellow, grunt or snort when alarmed, as well as when confronted by lions, and can also moo in distress.
f. Giraffes have a peaceful nature. This is seen when males fight. The winner never chases the loser. When the fight is over, the two males rub muzzles. They then rest together. They rarely fight, But when they do fight, it is something unlike any other. They fight by “necking”. They swing their necks into eachother repeatedly until one decides to walk away. It is violent but no one usually gets hurt.
g. They are capable of running at a speed of nearly 35 miles per hour over short distances and are one of the few mammals that walk by pacing which is by simultaneously carrying both feet on the left side forward and then simultaneously moving both feet on the right side forward. The final thing about giraffes is their habitat.
The giraffes habitat is unique to them.
a. Giraffes are social animals, and they live in open herds and travel in packs of 5 or 6. When there are a lot of leaves on the trees the giraffes scatter around to enjoy it. However, once winter approaches and food begins to become scarce, they congregate and live together to collectively look for food.
b. Previously found even in North Africa, today the remaining Giraffe populations are restricted to parts of sub-Saharan Africa with the largest concentrations being found in National Parks. Giraffes inhabit open woodlands and savannah where using their height they are able to see for great distances around them to watch out for approaching danger.
c. Despite being the tallest land animal in the world, the Giraffe is actually preyed upon by a number of large carnivores that co-inhabit the dry savannah. Lions are the primarily predators of the Giraffe that use the strength of the whole pride to catch their victim. Giraffes rely on the vast open plains so that they can have the best view possible of their surroundings but if a predator does get too close, Giraffes kick their attacker with their large, heavy feet to defend themselves.
d. In their natural habitat, they will live for about 15 years, but in a zoo they will live much longer than that.
In conclusion, Giraffes are one of the most interesting mammals out there and there are many reasons why, including their anatomy and appearance, their lifestyle, and their habitat. The next time you get the chance to go to the Buffalo Zoo, take time to stop and watch the giraffes because I guarantee you will be mesmerized just like me.