Zoology & Botany

Giraffe

Prepare a picture of/book about/a toy giraffe in advance, as well as a sample of skin

Say: Look at this animal. (Show a picture of a giraffe.) This is a mammal.

Remember, to be classified as a mammal, an animal should have hair or fur, mammary glands (mammal mothers nurse their young with milk), lungs and need air to breathe. Mammals that live on land are warm blooded, have 4 legs and ears that stick out.

(Point to the giraffe) Say: Giraffes are one of the world's tallest mammals. Known for their long necks, long legs, and spotted patterns. Giraffes have small "horns" or knobs on top of their heads that grow to be about five inches long. These knobs are used to protect the head in fights. Giraffes use their long necks to reach for leaves high in trees. They only have seven vertebrae in their necks, the same as humans. Their front legs are longer than their back legs, which also helps them to reach the treetops. Their uniquely-patterned coats camouflage them from predators. Giraffes have bluish-purple tongues which are tough and covered in bristly hair to help them with eating the thorny Acacia trees. Like camels, giraffes can go for long periods of time without drinking water. This helps keep them safer because drinking is one of the most dangerous times for a giraffe. While it is getting a drink it cannot keep a look out for predators and is vulnerable to attack. Go back to the picture of the sheep. Say: let’s find sheep’s body parts. This is it’s head, eyes, nose, mouth, body, legs: 1,2,3,4; this is its tail.(approach the sample of hair next to the baby in order to touch and feel it) Ask: ¨ Do you know, baby, that the hair that makes up a giraffe´s tail is about 10 times thicker than the average strand of human hair?¨ And that ¨Giraffes only need to drink once every several days; they get most of their water from the luscious plants they eat?¨

Sheep are living things and need energy to survive. Giraffes are herbivores, which means they eat only plants. Their long necks allow them to reach leaves, buds and branches high up in mimosa and acacia trees. Giraffes are the biggest ruminants in the world. This means they chew and cud and have more than one stomach. In fact, giraffes have four stomachs, the extra stomachs assisting with digesting food. A giraffe eats hundreds of pounds of leaves each week and must travel miles to find enough food. Giraffes sleep less than two hours a day. In general, they sleep with their feet tucked under them and their head resting on their hindquarters, but they can also sleep for short periods of time standing up.

Female giraffes can become pregnant at 3 to 4 years old. They carry a baby for 15 months and give birth while standing up. Their calves endure a rather rude welcome into the world by falling more than 1.5 meters to the ground at birth. These calves can stand in half an hour and run with their mothers an incredible ten hours after birth.

A giraffe's habitat is usually found in African savannas, grasslands or open woodlands. The gentle, iconic giraffe indicates the health of African savanna ecosystems, home to the most spectacular displays of wildlife in the world. We need to take care of giraffes and treat them with respect because they are living things just like us, people.

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