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Giraffe

Giraffe

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

full size image (http://www.wikipedia.com/images/uploads/giraffe.jpg)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Giraffidae[?]
Genus: Giraffa
Binomial name
Giraffa camelopardalis
The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an ungulate mammal that is the tallest living animal species in the world. Males can be 4.80 to 5.50 metres tall and weigh up to 900 kilograms. Females are generally slightly shorter and weigh less.

Native to Africa, Giraffa camelopardalis is related to the deer and antelopes, but placed in a separate family, the Giraffidae[?], consisting only of the giraffe and its relative the okapi.

The giraffe's neck is very long, and its forelegs are much longer than its hind legs; both of these adaptations are useful in browsing on the leaves of trees.

The giraffe's gestation period is between 14 and 15 months; a single calf is born at a time. The mother gives birth standing up and the embryonic sack actually bursts when the baby falls to the ground. Newborn giraffes are about 1.8 metres tall. Within a few hours of being born, the calves can run around and are indistinguishable from a giraffe that may be a week old already; howver, for the first two weeks, they spend most of their time lying down, guarded by their mothers. While adult giraffes are too large to be attacked by most predators, the young can fall prey to lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs. Despite their mothers' protection, only 25 to 50 percent of giraffes reach adulthood; those that do have a life expectance of between 20 and 25 years.



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