As much as modern knowledge has made us accustomed to the natural world, there are still so many facts that escape the average person’s attention. If you’ve ever been curious about how much a giraffe weighs, for example, we’ve got your back.
A random topic it may seem, but it can be mightily useful to be able to stack that knowledge against the more commonly known things about animals prevalent across the U.S. Our spotted, long-necked friends from across the Atlantic are outlandishly different from any form of wildlife that we’re accustomed to, but we have some apt comparisons–as well as more “rare” knowledge–that you’re going to find relatively irresistible. Read on, for everything that you didn’t know you needed to know about the heft of a giraffe.
Unless you’ve been to a zoo recently, you might be guilty of the same thing that plagues the rest of television addicts like us: a lack of respect for the sheer scale of animals like giraffes. Compared to the terrain that these odd animals inhabit, the U.S. is outright tame, and though we have our fair share of wild animals, the places that we can claim as being truly “wild” are dwindling all of the time. It’s the cost of progress and expansion, but that discussion is for another time, another place.
We’re here to talk about giraffes.
Determining their average weight is actually a more difficult task than you’d assume, primarily because there are actually several different varieties in existence. If someone asked you the average weight of a bear, you’d have questions, right? Grizzly, black, panda, polar, and the list could go on and on. Giraffes are much the same, even though most of them are native to the same types of environments in Africa.
In this guide, we’ll lay out some basic facts about the giraffe, in addition to how much they can weigh (which is a decidedly easy question to answer.) Apt comparisons will be provided to types of animals that we encounter more frequently in the U.S., so that you can better understand the scale of these animals, and escape the false assumptions that can stem from only encountering them on television.
We’ll also provide several further resources that you can explore so that you can continue fostering your overnight giraffe obsession! In order to obtain the relevant facts and stories necessary to educate on this topic, we’ve sought out other expert opinions online. Follow any of our provided links to learn far more about these impressive animals.
Different Types of Giraffe
Since giraffes all come from the same continent–because they thrive in similar environments–many forego examining the differences that separate the nine species of giraffe and simply lump them all together, instead. A giraffe is a giraffe is a giraffe. This, however, is far from the truth!
According to GiraffeWorlds, a website specifically dedicated to learning about and providing information on these amazing animals, there are four scientifically recognized species of giraffe currently in existence. Many believe there should actually be more recognized subspecies, but the scientific community at large doesn’t yet recognize them. Here are the common types of giraffe that most experts acknowledge:
- Masai Giraffe
- Rothschild Giraffe
- Somali Giraffe
- Nigerian / West-African Giraffe
The type that you see most commonly kept in U.S. zoos is the West African giraffe, and it bears the distinct coloration and patterns that giraffes are most typically recognized for. In the wild, a West African giraffe can weigh as much as 2800 pounds–over 2 tons! In addition to that surprising weight, an adult male giraffe can reach 16 to 19 feet in height. Animals kept in captivity, however, and especially those raised in captivity, often never reach their full height or weight.
To provide an apt comparison in weight, consider this: a full-grown dairy cow weighs, on average, 1500 pounds. Consider the overall size of an animal that can average 1000 pounds heavier than a full-grown Holstein cow, and you’ll get a picture of just how gargantuan a giraffe is. Continuing that comparison scale, let’s take a look at the African elephant–the largest elephant species. Whereas the largest giraffes are approximately 2800 pounds, an African elephant can reach up to 14,000 pounds!
Need another apt comparison? Let’s take a look at grizzly bears. Like giraffes, males of the species will typically weigh quite a lot more than female, and can reach up to 1700 pounds at their largest recorded size! Even though that’s well over average for a grizzly bear, that’s still more than a thousand pounds lighter than our big ‘ole West African giraffe.
How about the polar bear–the largest recorded species of bear? Long regarded as wild and gigantic, the largest recorded male polar bear was 2209 pounds. Still lighter! On average, they only weigh slightly more than your average grizzly bear.
This suffices to prove that giraffes are actually quite large animals, and even though they’re some of the lankiest looking things on four legs, they possess a towering presence that commands respect in the animal kingdom
Giraffe Life and Growth Cycle
Of course, we can’t limit ourselves to looking at the largest recorded giraffe specimens. We have to examine the entire giraffe life cycle and look at how these marvelous animals grow. Males typically weigh more than like-aged females, but all giraffes undergo significant growth from the moment they’re born until reaching adulthood. This will also help you to better recognize the differences between giraffes in the wild and those kept in captivity.
Compared to human reproductive cycles, a giraffe conception and birth is intense. It typically takes about 15 months for a giraffe calf to be born, and when it is, that baby is going to be hefty. A newborn giraffe can weigh between 150-200 pounds and stands approximately 6 feet tall. Imagine that for a moment–a giraffe that was just born standing taller than you are, right now.
A newborn giraffe grows quite a bit during its first year of life, too. Since young prey animals in herds are a magnet for predators, it’s no surprise that a young giraffe will spend most of its time growing straight upward, rather than putting on a massive amount of bulk and weight. It’s important for young animals to gain as much physical presence as they can, as early as they can, in order to dissuade predators from hunting them.
It only takes a few hours for a newborn to be able to walk, too. This is similar to the evolutionary traits we see in prey animals everywhere. Whitetail deer, common in the U.S., possess the same uncanny ability. Our kids could stand to learn a thing or two, no?
Giraffe Conservation and Information
Even as large as these animals are, they’re not safe from the encroaching dangers present to their environment. Unsurprisingly, the greatest of these dangers is mankind.
All recognized species of giraffes currently in existence are on the endangered species list, as of 2016. Only a slim margin of this danger can be attributed to natural threats and predators; the majority comes from poachers and the spread of civilization into previously wild areas occupied by giraffe herds.
Why poach giraffes? There are several reasons, and all of them point to the practice being on the rise. Giraffes are often killed for their meat since such large animals can provide quite a bit of food. Tragically, according to expert research, poached giraffe meat is often used to feed those responsible for poaching elephants. It’s reflective of a vicious cycle that’s decimating natural animal populations. In addition to the dangers brought on by poaching, giraffe herds are also threatened by locals that hunt them under the suspicion that their body parts are useful for medicinal purposes, namely in a myth that they can remedy HIV and AIDS.
It suffices to say that these species are in need of protection. You can find a great deal more information about giraffes through the links we’ve provided throughout this article. Their evolutions, habits, history, and behavior makes for fascinating reading, and we definitely encourage you to check out what some of the experts in the appropriate fields of study have to say about them.
In the U.S., where people encroach upon otherwise wild areas more and more every year, it’s almost outlandish to imagine such massive animals out wandering around. We freak out when we find a deer in a suburban neighborhood! It takes some imaginative thought to consider just how large these animals are, and if you can think of yourself standing next to one, it might just help you to appreciate them that much more.
For further information that you might not be likely to find elsewhere, keep checking in with us from time to time! Today, we’ve shown you not only how much a giraffe weighs, but compared them to other weighty wildlife in the interest of providing you some relative scale. Tomorrow, we’ll be tackling wholly different topics that are no less interesting, and no less backed up by facts. Chime in through the comments below with your questions, and consider sharing this article on Facebook and Twitter!