How big can a giraffe get

Giraffe, Rothschild Giraffe - Rothschild’s giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi


Giraffes are native to sub-Saharan Africa in various species and subspecies. Even if one very quickly speaks of a "miracle of nature", it is justified in the case of giraffes. The giraffe is an animal of superlatives: with up to 5.8 m it is the tallest land animal, has a very long tongue at around 50 cm, has the largest eyes of mammals and of course the longest neck, although it only has 7 cervical vertebrae like almost all has another mammal.

The advantage of their enormous height is not difficult to guess - giraffes feed mainly on leaves and young shoots of the umbrella acacia and have tapped a food source that no other animal living on the ground can reach. But how do they regulate, for example, the circulatory problems that are inevitably associated with this size? Everyone who is usually less than 2 m tall knows the dizziness that can affect you when you suddenly bend your head down and the blood rushes to your head. If a person were 5 m tall, the blood would be pressed so hard in his head with such an everyday movement that he would definitely die from it. Not such a giraffe! When she lowers her head to drink, for example, a spongy network of veins in front of the brain catches the blood and the blood pressure in the head does not rise at all.

Even in the normal state, when a giraffe just stands there, the performance of its cycle is astonishing. A healthy person normally has a blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg; if he had the blood pressure of a giraffe, all the coronary arteries would burst. In order for a giraffe to be able to pump the blood from the heart to the 3 m higher head, it needs the unprecedented blood pressure of 340/230 mm Hg. In addition, giraffes not only have valves in their veins like other mammals, but also valves in their arteries the blood cannot flow back up the long neck towards the heart.

Although giraffes are impressive in size, they are threatened by predators, especially lions. They reach speeds of over 50 km / h on the run. In order for the giraffe to be able to defend itself and the young at birth, unlike other mammals, it gives birth to its calf standing up. Another reason to give birth while standing is the size of the calf. It is already about 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and the weight of the calf helps give birth while standing.

The giraffes live in the Opel Zoo together with boehm zebras, blue wildebeest and impalas in the savannah area. There are fewer than 1,100 Rothschild giraffes in the wild and the subspecies is critically endangered.

Further information here: Zoo animal lexicon



Giraffes (Giraffidae)


Sub-Saharan Africa


Leaves, fresh shoots

Body to trunk length

3.8 - 4.7 m


up to 5.8 m


up to over 1000 kg

Life expectancy

25-30 years

Gestation period

450-465 days

Number boy



The Opel Zoo contributes to the preservation of the Rothschild giraffe by participating in the European Ex-Situ Program (EEP). In the EEPs, the breeding of the respective species is coordinated Europe-wide on a scientific basis; EEPs often also contribute to reintroduction projects.