Toronto Zoo Africa

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Facts about the animals

African Savanna

<Masai giraffe

The giraffe is the tallest animal in the world. These majestic animals have elongated necks, shoulders and skulls, steeply sloping backs and long stick-like legs with large heavy feet and a long thin tail with a tuft of long thick hairs, useful to flick off the flies. Their bodies are covered with a thick hide, sporting a pattern of splotches ranging in colour from a yellowish/tan to dark brown or almost black. The Masai giraffe has a very irregular pattern of fuzzy-edged splotches. The pattern never changes, but may vary in colour depending on age or season, darkening as the animal gets older. Their ears are large, as are their dark brown eyes which are shaded by long, elegant eyelashes. They can close their nostrils at will. Their lobed canine teeth are used as combs to strip off the leaves from trees. Their thin lips are very mobile, and the incredible flexible tongue can measure up to 45 cm in length. It is blue/black in colour.

 

 

Two short, skin covered horns are permanent and present in both sexes, although they are better developed in males. These ossicones are formed as cartilage and turn to bone from the tips downward. Males have horns that are thick and bald on top, while females have thinner, tufted horns. The giraffe also bears a smaller horn on the forepart of the frontal bones, situated more or less between the eyes. The neck is 1.5 m or more in length with seven vertebrae, typical of most mammals. The vertebrae are elongated and are attached to one another by a ball and socket joint, which makes the neck flexible. The heart is massive, weighing 11.5 kg and pumping approximately 60 liters of blood per minute.

 

 

They range in height from 3.8 to 5.5 m. They can weigh up to two tonnes. Generally males are taller than females.

 

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