The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant. The giraffe's scientific name, which is similar to its antiquated English name of camelopard, refers to its irregular patches of color on a light background, which bear a token resemblance to a leopard's spots. The average mass for an adult male giraffe is 2,600 pounds, while the average mass for an adult female is 1,800 pounds. It is approximately 14 feett to 17 feet tall, although the tallest male recorded stood almost 20 ft.
The giraffe is related to other even-toed ungulates, such as deer and cattle, but is placed in a separate family, the Giraffidae, consisting of only the giraffe and its closest relative, the okapi. Its range extends from Chad in Central Africa to South Africa. Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands. However, when food is scarce they will venture into areas with denser vegetation. They prefer areas with plenty of acacia growth. They will drink large quantities of water when available, which enables them to live for extended periods in dry, arid areas.
Photo captured at the Brookfield Zoo on April 10, 2010.
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