Did you know the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, is this month? This is why we celebrate the tallest land mammal in the world on June 21—World Giraffe Day!
A baby giraffe is almost 7 feet tall at birth, and an adult giraffe can be over 16 feet tall. Here at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, we currently have nine reticulated giraffes. Six of them are females and the other three are males. Reticulated giraffes get their name from the large polygonal, rust-colored spots outlined by a network of bright white lines. Just like our fingerprints and zebras’ stripes, each net pattern on a giraffe is unique and can help identify them. The giraffe’s coat is also used as camouflage in their environment of the dry savanna. Most reticulated giraffes can be found on the eastern side of the continent of Africa, primarily in northeastern Kenya, eastern Sudan, and Eritrea. At the Zoo, you can find giraffes at the Giraffe Overlook next to the Savanna Blooms Garden.
Besides being the tallest land mammals, giraffes also have the longest tongues. Reaching up to 18 inches in length, a giraffe’s tongue can be purple, black, or a mixture of the two. The coloring helps protect their tongues from sunburn since giraffes keep their tongues out for most of the day while grazing on tall trees. If you upgrade to the Zoo’s total experience package, you can feed the giraffes and see their tongues up close. They will get some of their favorite treats called browse, which are plant materials specifically collected for the giraffe’s consumption and enrichment. You will most likely see the reticulated giraffes eagerly taking wax myrtle from a guest at the Giraffe Overlook.
In the month of June and especially on World Giraffe Day, you can show your support for giraffe conservation through social media. Take a fun picture of yourself or together with your family standing tall—like a giraffe! If you’re not selfie-inclined, you can still participate by showing your giraffe-inspired photos. Tag Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and Giraffe Conservation Foundation. You can also use any of these hashtags for your pictures: #GiraffeConservationFoundation #WorldGiraffeDay #WorldGiraffeDay2021 #OperationSahelgiraffe2 #StickYourNeckOutForGiraffe #StandTallForGiraffe.
Use your creativity to help spread the message of giraffe conservation this World Giraffe Day.