Facts about Giraffe & Zebra

Facts about the Giraffe & Zebra 


Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis

The giraffe is the tallest animal in the world, attaining a height of 5.5m, its incredibly long neck accounting for much of its height.

As you know if you’ve ever seen a cow, ruminants are mammals equipped with specialized stomachs that “pre-digest” their food; they’re constantly chewing their “cud,” a mass of semi-digested food ejected from their stomach and in need of further breakdown. Perhaps the reason most people don’t realize Giraffes are ruminants is because it’s difficult to see this animal chewing its cud; after all, a cow’s head is roughly at eye level, but you really have to crane your neck to see the top of a Giraffe!

 

Why do Giraffes have such long necks? The obvious answer is that elongated necks allow Giraffes to reach their favorite foods; the less obvious, and more likely, answer is that long necks are a sexually selected characteristic. During mating season, for instance, male Giraffes will engage in “necking,” in which two combatants jostle one another and attempt to land blows with their ossicones. After these fights, it’s not unusual for males to have make-up sex, one of the few clear examples of homosexuality in the animal kingdom.

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Burchell´s Zebra (Equus burchelli)

Burchell´s Zebra - Equus burchelli

Zebras are single-hoofed animals that are native to Africa. Zebras are very closely related to horses and donkeys; in fact, they are in the same genus, Equus. The most prominent feature of zebras is the bold patterns on their coats.

Each species of zebra has a different general pattern of stripes. The Grevy’s zebra has very thin stripes. The mountain zebra has vertical stripes on its neck and torso, but horizontal stripes on its haunches. Some subspecies of plains zebras have brownish “shadow” stripes between the black stripes. It is believed that the zebra’s stripes work like camouflage. When zebras stand together, it is harder for predators to determine how many zebras are in the group.

Zebra at Mapungubwe NP

The stripes may also make the zebra appear unattractive to smaller predators, such as bloodsucking horseflies, which can spread disease. In addition, the stripes may work as a natural sunscreen. Each zebra’s stripes are unique. Just as no two human fingerprints are alike, no two zebras have the same stripe pattern.

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Mountain zebra (Equus zebra)

 

mountain zebra

The Mountain zebra is truly a symbol of Africa. The species is so called due to its amazing climbing ability, allowing it to easily take over steep, rugged surfaces. This ungulate has developed considerably tougher and more pointed hooves than these of other equine species. This is one of the best-known are easily recognizable species of the horse family. The body of this animal is covered with black and white stripes. The mane is short and straight. Another distinctive characteristic of this species is ‘grid iron’, narrow stripes, running through its rump. Additionally, the Mountain zebras possess so-called ‘dewlap” – a thin piece of skin on their throat. The dewlap is more conspicuous in males. 

The Mountain zebras lead diurnal lifestyle, being active by day and sleeping by night. They exhibit increased activity at dawn and dusk. Nearly half of their active time is spent feeding. In addition, they take dust baths 1 – 2 times per day.
The Mountain zebras are represented by two sub-species. These are: Cape mountain zebras, inhabiting South Africa; and Hartmann’s mountain zebra sub-species, occurring in scattered parts of Namibia, Angola and South Africa.  
Facts about Giraffe & Zebra
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