Detroit Zoo - Giraffes
Detroit Zoo - Giraffe


Giraffa camelopardalis

At the Detroit Zoo
The African Grasslands is home to three giraffes – Mpenzi, his mom Kivuli and his dad Jabari. 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. The giraffe family can be found next to the Grevy’s zebras in the African Grasslands. The Giraffe Encounter, an elevated viewing platform overlooking their habitat, puts guests at eye level with the tallest creatures at the Zoo. Visitors may purchase tickets to hand-feed these gentle giants from the Giraffe Encounter deck at designated feedings times in the warm weather months. In the winter months, the giraffes can be seen indoors.

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).