Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nature Notes: Galloping Giraffe

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Somali or Reticulated Giraffes (Giraffa cameleopardalis reticulata) engaging in a small fight. It's called necking and looks very graceful, like pretty much everything giraffes do. Males do it to establish dominance and injuries are very rare - but even though it looks slow and almost like ballet, a well-aimed blow can absolutely knock down the weaker giraffe. The horns (called ossicones, they're not real horns) help with that and are aimed at the neck and rump during a fight.
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The calf of the group went for a run around the enclosure, bucking and throwing its legs like a horse - I have never seen a giraffe do that and it was an impressive sight. A running giraffe looks deceptively slow, probably because the legs don't have to move all that fast to cover the distance, but they can reach speeds of up to 60km/h (37mph).
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Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

Photos were taken at Wilhelma in Stuttgart.
Sources and further reading:
Animal Diversity Web
Wikipedia Somali Giraffe
Wikipedia Giraffe
Arkive

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