Detroit Zoo - Giraffes
Detroit Zoo - Giraffe


Giraffa camelopardalis

At the Detroit Zoo
The African Grasslands is home to five giraffes – Mpenzi; his mom, Kivuli; his dad, Jabari; Zara; and Juhudi, who was born to Zara and Jabari in May 2023. Mpenzi means “love” in Swahili – one of the languages of East Africa where giraffes are found. Jabari (Swahili for “brave one”) seems curious and frequently explores the habitat. Kivuli (Swahili for “shadow”) is the more reserved of the two adults. Zara came to the Detroit Zoo in fall 2020 and has a very calm demeanor and seems eager to learn new things. The newest member of the herd, Juhudi (Swahili for “hard work, effort and enthusiasm”) is curious and playful.

This giraffe herd can be found next to the Grevy’s zebras in the African Grasslands. In the winter months, the giraffes may be in their recently expanded indoor habitat.

Giraffes are the tallest land mammals in the world. Their long necks and legs make giraffes the tall mammals that they are. They have long, narrow faces with two fur-covered horns, or ossicones, that adorn the tops of their heads. A thin, brown-colored mane runs down their necks, and they have tufts of brown hair at the ends of their tails.

Fun Facts

  • The giraffe has the same number of vertebrae in its neck as a human (there are only seven bones in its neck).

  • A giraffe’s tongue can be up to 22 inches long, which makes eating leaves a breeze.

  • The giraffe is capable of making sounds that are too low for humans to hear.

  • A giraffe eats 16 to 20 hours a day, consuming up to 75 pounds of fresh browse.

  • Giraffes get to spend more quality time together than most mammals, considering they rarely sleep more than 20 minutes each day.

  • A giraffe’s heart can weigh up to 25 pounds (an adult human heart weighs about 10 ounces).