Giraffe:The tallest animal and the longest neck in the worldFitness Gear & Equipment
Of all the animals in the world, the giraffe is the tallest and has the longest neck. A male giraffe’s head may be as much as six meters above the ground. A female is only a little shorter. Nearly half of the giraffes’ great height is in its neck and head. Even so, the giraffe has only seven bones in its neck, the same as most other mammals and each of the bones are very long. A giraffe eats leaves and grass. In order to eat grass, it must spread its front feet wide apart so that I can get its head down the ground. Mostly it eats leaves. The giraffe’s long neck enables it to eat leaves that are beyond the reach of other ground animals. The giraffe twists its long tongue around the highest leaves and pulls them into its mouth then it chews them with its teeth and long, flexible upper lip.
The giraffe lives in Africa on dry, sunny plains and along the edges of forests. Its coloring helps to hide it from its main enemy, the lion. The brown-and-cream pattern of the giraffe’s coat blends into the pattern of leaves and shadows. Such a kind of disguise is called natural camouflage. The giraffe has still other weapons against meat-eating animals. It has sharp eyesight and long, swift legs. If it is cornered, it kicks out with its big front hooves. Lions usually attack a giraffe when it is drinking water with its forelegs spread and its head down. Both male and female giraffes have small horns. The horns are covered with skin and hair. They never break off like those of other horned cattle. Giraffes sometimes push and strike each other with their heads but mostly they are peaceful animals.The mother giraffe gives birth to one baby at a time, perhaps every two years. Giraffe mothers, fathers and their young generally travel in small herds of a dozen or so.
The long-necked giraffe has a short-necked cousin called the okapi. Until the 20th, scientists did not know whether the okapi was real or merely a legend. They had heard about it but had never seen one. Finally, in 1901, proof of the okapi was found in the Congo. The proof a skin and two skulls were sent to London. A shy animal, the okapi is about the size of a small horse. In color it is a reddish or sometimes bluish brown, with white stripes on its legs. Only the male has horns. Giraffes and okapis form a family of animals all by themselves, having no other species. Their closest relatives are probably deer. Millions of years ago giraffes lived in many parts of the world. They lived in Europe and Asia as well as in Africa.