Baby giraffe: 22 facts about birth, weight, height, and size

Mother giraffe licking its baby in the Masai Mara

Baby giraffes are the cutest thing you could see on the African savannah. While a famous giraffe keeps giving birth at Animal Adventure Park, there’s so much more to discover when viewing these animals in the wild.

Amazingly, females give birth standing up. The baby giraffe drops head first onto the ground from a height of almost two meters – how is that for an entrance into the world.

That’s what happens to every giraffe. The mother spreads her legs and the baby literally plops out and thuds against the savannah.

The world’s most famous giraffe’s name is April and she lives in a zoo. You can view her births live on YouTube and she’s become a bit of an Internet sensation.

It’s very different giving birth in the wild, with lions prowling nearby and no vet to watch over the proceeding. In fact, it’s one of Africa’s most spectacular sightings.

So, how big is a baby giraffe? How tall are baby giraffes when they’re born? And what does a baby giraffe look like? Let’s discuss the answers.

Here are 22 baby giraffe facts, helping you to better understand these magnificent creatures in the wild.

1. Giraffe Babies Are 15 Months in the Making

Pregnant reticulated giraffe in Samburu

Giraffes have one of the longest gestation periods in the animal kingdom. Nine months is a long time but imagine 15 months.

Two other African giants take even longer. Rhinos have a gestation period of 15-16 months while elephants have the longest of all mammals (22 months). That makes sense though, as elephants are the largest living land mammals.

2. Do Giraffes Give Birth Standing Up?

Well yes, they do and it’s a remarkable sight. Check this video to see what happens during the birthing process:

3. Baby Giraffes Come out in the Superman Position

Okay, they’re not wearing a cape or anything like that.

The babies come out front feet first, with their neck and head stretched over the knees as though they were flying through the air.

4. A Two-Meter Drop into Life for the Babies of Giraffes

Female giraffe giving birth in a zoo

Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world so the newborn has quite some way to travel.

The “superman position” helps to break the fall a little.

As it emerges the giraffe baby stretches out towards the ground, so the fall isn’t as dramatic as it could be.

5. If a Giraffe Gave Birth When Sitting Down, the Baby Would Get Squashed

It’s very rare for giraffes not to be standing. They almost never lie down as this makes them vulnerable to all the predators.

Giraffes like April might lie down because they are in a zoo. But out on the savannah, there are lions around, so giraffes even sleep standing up.

Giving birth to a baby that is already two meters long poses a unique challenge.

If the giraffe gave birth while seated, there wouldn’t be enough room for the newborn to come out.

That incredibly long neck would bend badly or fracture as it came out.

6. How Much Does a Baby Giraffe Weigh?

Mother giraffe and baby in the Masai Mara

A newborn baby giraffe’s weight is around 50 to 70 kilograms.

That’s one of the largest babies in the animal world, although nowhere close to the largest baby there is.

Blue whale babies weigh three tons (3000 kg) at birth, then add on an extra 100 kg a day for their first year in the world.

7. A Standing Birth is a Genius Piece of Natural Evolution

It may look like a bungee jump gone wrong, but there is the innovation behind it all.

Such a dramatic fall severs the umbilical cord. While vets could assist April the giraffe, there’s no such support out on the African savannah.

The fall also immediately tears the amniotic sac. So in one swift move, the baby giraffe is completely disentangled from her mother.

8. Bumping Its Head Brings the Giraffe to Life

Mother giraffe licks its newborn baby

If that wasn’t all, a bump to the head helps to kick-start the giraffe’s internal systems.

The big shock literally wakes up the calf and starts its respiratory system.

So without the fall, the giraffe would never breathe.

9. Why Do Giraffes Have 50 cm Tongues?

Partly these long tongues are for giving kisses to tourists at animal parks, including Nairobi Giraffe Center.

The remarkable 50 cm tongues are perfect for grabbing food off tree branches.

They are strong and long, able to wrap around food and pull it off.

There’s another reason. A mother uses her long tongue to clean all the birth juices off her calf.

10. Baby Giraffes Can Stand and Walk Within 30 Minutes

Baby giraffe walking in the wild

There’s no waiting around for these animals. And rightly so.

An animal that can’t stand or run is going to get snatched up pretty quickly.

All those birth juices give off a scent, and it’s not long before hyenas and big cats are sniffing around the birth site.

Amazingly, giraffes can stand pretty much from the moment they are born. All healthy calves can walk within 30 minutes of being in the world. Unhealthy calves don’t make it, unfortunately.

What would happen if the baby giraffe doesn’t stand on its feet? Predators will probably eat them within 24 hours if they cannot walk or stand.

11. Giraffes Take Around 24 Hours Before They Can Run

Have you ever seen a giraffe run? It’s an enchanting sight, with long loping strides across the wilderness.

Newborn calves are quick to learn and are up and running within 24 hours. That’s pretty essential when you are living with lions.

12. Giraffe Horns Aren’t Visible Immediately

Newborn baby giraffe in the wild

Look closely at any giraffe and you’ll see two protruding little horns on their head. Scientists call these so-called ‘horns’, ossicones.

When inside their mother, these baby giraffe horns fold flat so as to not get in the way. It takes a few hours before they unfold themselves and stand proudly upon the newborn.

13. Baby Giraffes Have Muted Colorings on Their Coats

Did you know that all the giraffe subspecies have a different coat of patterns and markings? Baby giraffes look very pale in comparison. Although you can make out the pattern, the intense coloring won’t develop until they become adults.

Quick Tip: Here you can read more interesting facts about giraffes.

14. Giraffes Form Towers

A tower of giraffes in the Serengeti

A mother usually gives birth on her own, in a quiet part of the savannah. Then she rejoins the tower. Yep, a group of giraffes isn’t known as a herd, it’s a tower.

This is one of the best animal group names and a nice piece of safari knowledge that you can use to impress a guide.

15. How Tall Are Baby Giraffes?

Just how tall is a baby giraffe? Well, a baby giraffe can stand as tall as 6 feet when it’s born.

Even though a newborn has a long neck, it is about to get a lot longer. In comparison to the size of their bodies, babies have much shorter necks than adults.

After 12 months of life, the giraffe will have doubled in height. Most of this newfound height is on the neck.

It’s essential for giraffes to first grow tall and then grow fat. Well, if they didn’t grow tall they couldn’t reach the tree branches they feed on.

16. Giraffe Raise Their Young in Daycare Groups

Giraffe family on the African savannah

They probably don’t call them daycare groups or kindergartens, but that’s essentially what they are.

Mothers band together, taking turns to look after the youngsters. One mother will look over the daycare group, while the others are out feeding and foraging.

17. The Men Don’t Get Involved

Males and fathers don’t play any part in bringing up a baby giraffe.

However, giraffe towers do travel together so the males have a security role to play, defending the babies against predators.

18. Baby Giraffes Leave Their Daycare At Two Years Old

Baby giraffe running in the Masai Mara

Youngsters stay with their mothers for the first 18-24 months. After that, they usually leave the tower and set off on their own.

However, the maternal bond remains strong, particularly between mother and daughter. Giraffes will regularly return to their mother and travel with her for a few days or weeks.

19. Once Grown a Giraffe Has a 12 kg Heart

Once fully grown a giraffe has one of the most staggering organs in the animal kingdom. Just imagine, a heart that weighs 12 kg.

In comparison, the average human heart weighs around 310 grams.

Such an incredible heart is necessary to pump blood more than two meters to the brain. The blood rushes around at such intense pressure a giraffe needs special artery walls to stop its blood vessels from popping.

20. Male Giraffes Are Ready to Be Fathers Aged Six But They Have to Wait

Two male giraffes fighting in Etosha

Males reach sexual maturity by six years old but it’s unlikely they will get a chance to mate until they are well into their teens.

Competition is tough and males usually need to win a few neck-to-neck battles to earn the right to mate.

21. Females Are Ready to Have Their Own Babies Aged Four

Female giraffes reach sexual maturity when they are just four years old.

Let that sink in, you’ve only been in the world for 48 months and now you spend 15 months developing a new life.

22. Baby Giraffe Numbers Are Dropping Significantly

Lone giraffe bull walking through the grass in the Serengeti

There has been a 40% decline in the global giraffe population over the last 30 years. Due to this, giraffes are now vulnerable and appear on the IUCN list.

While April the giraffe has helped many people understand a giraffe’s life cycle, she is a captive animal kept behind bars.

It’s essential we recognize the conservation challenges in Africa and give our support to the wild baby giraffe as well.

Filled with Facts About Baby Giraffes?

As baby’s go, giraffes have some of the cutest “little” ones. Due to their innate size, the process of a baby giraffe’s birth can look quite destructive. In reality, though, it is a beautiful phenomenon that should be appreciated.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Book an African safari today to see these magnificent creatures in the wild.

3 thoughts on “Baby giraffe: 22 facts about birth, weight, height, and size”

  1. Do you know that acacia tree bark turns toxic after a giraffe feeds on a tree for more than ten minutes? Trees also communicate with each other…

  2. I have yet to find an article that tells me how fast a giraffe calf gains weight! I know they can start at 150-200. And I’ve learned that an adult male can weigh 4,000+ lbs and females can weigh 2,000+ lbs but no one has said a giraffe calf weighs this at birth an by the time they’re 4,6, 9, or 12 months old they could weigh this. Can you answer this for me please?

    1. Hi Nancy,

      I would also have to look into it as I don’t have a clear answer for you.

      Great question though, we will definitely add this to our post if we can find strong evidence.



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