The Giraffe is probably one of the most easily recognised but least known about mammals in the world. It is believed that there may be up to six different species that will not breed with each other in the wild but when kept in zoos will cross-breed readily. Each group is recognised by the type and colour of its spots. They may well have started off as one species initially but probably moved into isolated breeding groups around a million years ago.
They have two defences one is their extremely powerful hind legs equipped with tough hooves. The other, primarily used in combat with a rival, is their long heavy necks which they bash into each other with the ferocity of a closed fist.
Giraffes live from between five and thirty years. A vast difference compared to many other species. Although their long necks have proved to be an asset when it comes to spotting their enemies from a great distance and reaching juicy leaves on tall branches to eat, it is probable that it is their necks that will eventually cause their demise.
The Giraffes at West Midland Safari Park