CLOSE
Original image
Thinkstock

20 Things You Might Not Know About Giraffes

Original image
Thinkstock

You know they're tall—the tallest mammals in the world, in fact—but here are 20 other fun facts about these leggy herbivores.

1. Over short distances, giraffes can run at speeds up to 35 mph.

*

2. Giraffes only need to drink water once every couple of days. They get most of their water from their plant-based diet—which is good considering their height makes the process of drinking difficult (and, if a lion happens upon a drinking giraffe, even dangerous).

*

3. Female giraffes often return to where they were born to give birth. Once there, their calves receive a rough welcome into the world, falling over five feet to the ground.

*

4. Fortunately, baby giraffes can stand up and even run within a hour of being born.

*

5. Giraffes' tongues can be up to 20 inches long and are darkly colored, which is thought to help protect them during frequent sun-exposure.

*

6. Giraffes usually stay upright while sleeping and if they do settle into a vulnerable position on the ground, it's just for a quick six-minute nap.

*

7. Giraffes have hair-covered horns called ossicones—but only males use them (for fighting each other).

*

8. Giraffes require over 75 pounds of food a day—and with a diet of leaves, this means they spend most of their time eating.

*

9. The giraffe's scientific name, Giraffa camelopardalis, comes from the ancient Greeks' belief that it looked like a camel wearing a leopard's coat.

*

10. Despite their characteristic long necks, giraffes actually have the same number of neck vertebrae as humans—just seven. Each individual vertebra is super-sized, measuring up to ten inches long.

*

11. Because of their unusual shape, giraffes have a highly-specialized cardiovascular system that starts with an enormous heart. It's two feet long and weighs up to 25 pounds.

*

12. Additionally, the jugular veins contain a series of one-way valves that prevent excess blood flow to the brain when the giraffe lowers its head to drink.

*

13. Male giraffes engage in a ritualized display of dominance called "necking" that involves head-butting each other's bodies.

*

14. Unlike horses and most other quadrupeds, giraffes walk by moving both legs on the same side of their body together. So, the left front and the left hind legs step and then the right front and the right hind legs step.

*

15. Although they're more likely to run from an attack than fight back, giraffes are not completely defenseless. A swift kick from one of their long legs can do serious damage to—or even kill—an unlucky lion.

*

16. Male giraffes will test a female's fertility by tasting her urine. Which is something now you can't un-know.

*

17. June 21, 2014 will be the first ever World Giraffe Day

*

18. The first giraffe to make its way to Europe was brought there by Julius Caesar from Alexandria in 46 B.C. as part of a triumphant return to Rome after years of civil war. 

*

19. Some 1500 years later, Lorenzo de' Medici was gifted a giraffe by the sultan of Egypt. Giraffes had not been seen in Italy since antiquity and it caused quite the sensation, wandering the streets of Florence and accepting treats offered out of second-story windows.

*

20. Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is affectionately known as the "Baby Giraffe," so naturally, when a baby giraffe was born at the San Francisco Zoo, it was named Brandon Belt. When the two met, it was predictably adorable.

All images courtesy of Thinkstock.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Animals
Australia Zoo Is Taking Name Suggestions for Its Newborn White Koala
Original image
iStock

A koala with striking white fur was recently born at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, and she already has an adoring fan base. Now all she needs is a name. As Mashable reports, the zoo is calling on the public for suggestions on what to call the exceptional joey.

The baby, who is one of several newborn koalas living at the zoo, climbed out of her mother’s pouch for the first time not too long ago. When she made her public debut, she revealed a coat of white fur rarely seen in her species. According to the zoo, the koala isn’t albino. Rather, she got her pale shade from a recessive gene inherited from her mother known as a “silvering gene.” Though the light coloration is currently the koala’s defining feature, there’s a good chance she’ll eventually grow out of it and take on the gray-and-white look that’s typical for her species.

For now, the Australia Zoo is celebrating the birth of its first-ever white koala joey by getting the public involved in the naming process. On the post announcing the zoo’s new arrival, commenters have so far suggested Pearl, Snowy, Luna, and Kao (from the Thai word for “white”) as names to match the baby’s immaculate appearance. There are also a few pop culture-related proposals, including Olaf after the character in Frozen and Daenerys in honor of Game of Thrones.

Instead of deciding the koala’s name by popular vote, the zoo will select the winner from their favorite submissions. And with nearly 5000 comments on the original Facebook post to choose from, the joey will hopefully have better luck than the animals named by the public before her. (The Koalay McKoala Face does have a certain ring to it.)

[h/t Mashable]

Original image
Press TV News Videos, YouTube
arrow
Animals
Why Blue Dogs Have Been Roaming Mumbai
Original image
Press TV News Videos, YouTube

Residents of Mumbai began noticing a peculiar sight on August 11: roving stray dogs tinted a light shade of blue. No one knew what to make of these canines, which were spotted in the streets seemingly unharmed but otherwise bucking nature.

Concerned observers now have an answer, but it’s not a very reassuring one. According to The Guardian, the 11 Smurf-colored animals were the result of pollution run-off in the nearby Kasadi River. Industrial waste, including dyes, has been identified as coming from a nearby manufacturing plant. Although dogs are known to swim in the river, the blue dye was also found in the air. After complaints, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board investigated and found the factory, Ducol Organics Pvt Ltd., was not adhering to regulatory guidelines for waste disposal. They shut off water to the facility and issued a notice of closure last Friday.

“There are a set of norms that every industry needs to follow,” MPCB regional officer Anil Mohekar told The Hindustan Times. “After our sub-regional officers confirmed media reports that dogs were indeed turning blue due to air and water pollution, we conducted a detailed survey at the plant … We will ensure that the plant does not function from Monday and the decision sets an example for other polluting industries, which may not be following pollution abatement measures.”

Animal services workers who retrieved five of the dogs were able to wash off the dye. They reported that no other health issues were detected.

[h/t The Guardian]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios