Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giraffe Trophy Hunting

     The giraffe is considered a trophy animal to most safari hunters. Trophy hunting is defined as the selective hunting of wild game animals, like that of the giraffe species.  Although parts of the animal are kept as “trophies” by the hunter such as the skin, antlers and head, the carcass can sometimes also be used for food.
     Trophy hunting has become a very controversial topic among hunters and animal rights and welfare groups. As with hunting in general, it has some firm supporters along with some firm opponents. The controversy usually centers on the question of the morality of the sport itself along with the overall question if the sport does in fact benefit the population of the game animals and the local economy from which it comes. Trophy hunting is sometimes related to poaching. This statement is incorrect. Poaching is illegal while trophy hunting is not.

      A trophy from such hunting is often processed by a taxidermist along with parts such as teeth and tusks also being trophy worthy. Such trophies are often displayed in the hunter’s home. Some homes even have special “game rooms” or “trophy rooms” in which the items are displayed. Hunters of giraffes have been known to pay thousands of dollars for their “trophy.” For some, they just want their trophy as a picture next to the animal while others pay even more for a taxidermy and the transportation home.
     Activists who think giraffe trophy hunting should be outlawed everywhere are usually against hunting animals in general. Giraffe hunting though can have some benefits to the community. It can bring in money to its local community along with providing meat since most trophy hunters are in it for the “trophy” aspect, not necessarily the meat itself.  Yes, giraffe meat is in fact edible by humans and is not poisonous. The native trophy hunting assistants are quite often even paid in giraffe meat.
     On the other hand, trophy giraffe hunting has seemed to have a negative effect on the species population. They are currently observed to be extinct in Angola, Mali and Nigeria. According to Dr. Julian Fennessy, the world’s preeminent giraffe specialist and founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, certain countries can allow giraffe hunting. South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have sustainable populations.
     My view on this controversy is a little biased. I am overall fascinated by the creature and couldn’t imagine ever killing a giraffe on purpose to have its head on my wall. On a more realistic note though, after some research was done, although I would never want to shoot a giraffe, I overall support trophy giraffe hunting. They are legal hunts, performed by professionals on private land. Some may argue that the population numbers of giraffes across Africa are dropping. According to Dr. Fennessy, in the countries where you can legally hunt giraffes, their population numbers are in fact increasing. This shows that if the hunting property and animals are properly managed, the hunting itself can be very sustainable. Not only is trophy giraffe hunting increasing population numbers, but it also helps the local communities. Hunters pay tens of thousands of dollars in order to hunt these giraffes, along with providing meat to the workers of this practice.


1. "Hunters Criticised for Killing Giraffes." Telegraph.Co. Telegraph Media, 11 Oct. 0017. Web. 06
            Nov. 2013. <

2. "Trophy Hunting Giraffe." AfricanSkyHunting.Co. African Sky, 2012. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://

3. "Trophy Hunting." OccupyForAnimals.Org. Occupy For Animals, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://

4. Fortino, Sebastian. "Sadistic Safari?" TheDailyActivist.Com. The Daily Activist RSS, 2011. Web. 06
           Nov. 2013. <>.

Giraffes and Religion

    The giraffe seems to have a positive impact on religion throughout the world. In New Age religion, giraffes are a symbol for intuition and flexibility due to their ability to move with such grace despite having such long limbs. According to a spirit guide, the giraffe is a symbol of farsightedness or grounded vision. This is because of its ability to see much farther than most other living things. This aspect relates to humans being able to see far into the future. They also seem to reach for things that others wouldn’t even dare to reach for. This connects to a human being able to see above one’s own little problems and being able to look at the bigger picture. Scientifically, giraffes have been known to go a month without water. This is used as a symbol of patience and endurance.  There has even been a curing dance created from observing the species. It has been said that the dance came to a woman in a dream in the 1950’s. She saw a vision of a herd of giraffes running in the rain, their hooves and the raindrops beating a peculiar melody. The vision became the Giraffe Song, which spawned a Giraffe Dance, which in turn started spreading like wildfire. For decades, the Bushmen of the Kalahari area used it as their main hunting dance” (OneKind).


1. Poisuo, Pauli. "10 Fascinating Facts About Giraffes." Listverse. Listverse.Com, 12 Oct. 2013. Web.
           06 Nov. 2013. <>.

2. Watson, Jennifer. "Spirit Guides Giraffe." Spiritual Living 360. SpiritualLiving360.Com, 15 Mar.
           2011. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <

3. "Giraffe." One Kind. OneKind.Org, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <

Giraffes in Religion and Mythology

     Seen by most as a captivating, beautiful species, the giraffe has been a character in many myths and legends throughout time. Scholars of the past have been at a loss of words to describe their fascinating characteristics such as their long necks and limbs. Many myths deemed the now known giraffe as rather a camelopard, half camel and half leopard due to its features.
     There are many myths as to how giraffes obtained their long magnificent necks. An example of such a myth is          
Tim Gets His Head Stuck in a Tree:
Alvin stole Tim's ball and threw it up in a tree. The other giraffes climbed on top of each other to try and reach it. Tim was the highest and they all fell, but his head became stuck high in the tree. The other giraffes pulled on his legs and he finally came down, but not after his neck had been permanently stretched. The long neck turned out to have advantages. When other giraffes saw that he could eat tree leaves without jumping, they went to the same tree and had their necks stretched too.”
Another myth is one that not only incorporates how giraffes got their long necks, but also how they obtained their name.
Boulder on the Neck:
“Hades and Boulder threw a rock on the head of an animal that resembled a leopard, says Nick's Myth Page. Zeus had a strong man remove the rock from the animal, but not before it had stretched out its neck to twice its normal length trying to free itself. Zeus asked the animal its name, and it replied "Gerald Raffe."
1. Nelson, Ted. "Historical Myths About Why Giraffes Have Long Necks." EHow. EHow.Com, 25 July 
           2011. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <

2. Talley, Trevor. "Myths & Legends of the Giraffe." EHow. EHow.Com, 27 Mar. 2011. Web. 06 Nov.
           2013. <>.

Giraffes in Films

     The giraffe is featured in many popular films such as the Madagascar series by DreamWorks. This animation film tells the story of four zoo animals who have spent their lives in blissful captivity, but are then shipped back to Africa where their ship wrecks on the island of Madagascar. The four main animals featured include a lion, zebra, hippo, and a giraffe. This movie relates animals being held in captivities such as zoos similar to them living the life of luxury. This luxurious lifestyle of a zoo has left these animals stranded in the wild, not knowing how to fend for themselves.
     In the children’s film of "Madagascar", they display zoo animals as living a life of luxury. It portrays a message of friendship and overcoming obstacles whether it be between friends or taking on challenging unfamiliar changes in life.

Melman is the main giraffe featured in Madagascar. He is depicted as a hypochondriac who believes he has many illnesses. His meals consist of a lot of medications and he has many frequent doctor appointments. His illnesses though were really just a pigment of his imagination. He is very uncomfortable and skittish when he is turned out into the wild and always seems to be in a panic.  

     Another film that features a giraffe is "The Zookeeper" by Sandler’s production company starring Kevin James. This film starts out by Kevin proposing to his girlfriend, but sadly being rejected due to his career as a zookeeper. A few years later he becomes the lead zookeeper who cares very strongly for the zoo animals. When offered a different job at a car dealership, he strongly contemplates quitting the zoo in order to win his “true love” back. The animals hold a meeting saying they do not want their head zookeeper to leave because they think he is the best there is. They decide to find another way to win back his true love without him having to quit the zoo which includes breaking the rules and physically talking to a human.  
    In the adult film of "The Zookeeper", zoo animals are displayed a little more realistically. The zoo animals live a decent life with the help of their zookeeper. They are not displayed as a cartoon, but they are given the ability to talk to humans. It also has a scene where a zoo animal is in need of a new exhibit in order to become happier living at the zoo. This film’s message is about a man finding himself more comfortable with a lion than a lady. In other words, it is about staying true to yourself, no matter how much someone may want you to change. In the long run, staying true to yourself is the ultimate happiness and everything else will fall into place, one way or another.
Mollie is the giraffe in "The Zookeeper." This giraffe is highly anthropomorphized in the film while still keeping its realistic image. She is depicted as a confident creature. One of her famous quotes is “That's how u gotta get cha girl.....yea, yea.”
     Both of these films feature giraffes that are anthropomorphized through characteristics such as talking. They both display a message to their viewers what it is like for an animal in zoo captivity.
     I believe a giraffe was specifically chosen for both of the films due to their presence in zoos. Almost any zoo you would visit today has a giraffe exhibit and it seems to attract a lot of zoo visitors. Personally, the giraffe exhibit at zoos are my favorite. I could watch them all day if I was allowed to.


1. Caverley, Alyssa. "Zookeeper Movie Review: A Fun Animal Comedy With a Message." Movie
          Fanatic. MovieFanatic.Com, 10 July 2011. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://www.moviefanatic.

2. "Zookeeper (film)." Wikipedia. Wikipedia.Org, n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2013. <

3. "Madagascar (2005 Film)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Apr. 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.  

4. Fuchs, Cynthia. "Madagascar." CommonSenseMedia.Org. Common Sense Media, 20 Nov. 2005.
           Web.06 Nov. 2013. <>.

5. "Melman." Wikia.Com. Wikia Entertainment, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://madagascar.wikia.

Giraffes in Literature and Folklore

We are the window cleaners
We will polish your glass
Till it’s shining like brass
And it sparkles like sun on the sea!
We are quick and polite,
We will come day and night,
The Giraffe and the Pelly and me!
     Aside from  nonfiction books on giraffes, giraffes have been used as characters in multiple children’s books. An example of such would be Roal Dahl’s: The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. This book is told by the little boy Billy, otherwise known in the book as “I”, a pelican, a giraffe and a monkey (known as “me”). The animals in this book are given human characteristics such as being able to speak and clean windows. In this children’s story, the animals buy property and set up their own business. What better business could these three animals have, but no other than a ladder-less window cleaning service! For a ladder they use the giraffe’s long neck, for a pail they use the pelican large mouth, and that leaves the window wiping to the monkey. The climax of the story occurs when the animals are hired by the Duke. While on the job, they help catch a burglar at the Duke’s mansion. For their wonderful, over the top service, they are granted their dream wishes. For the giraffe it’s the fruit of the Tinkle Tinkle tree, for the Monkey it’s nut trees, for the Pelican it’s a pond filled with Salmon and for the boy it’s candy for his sweetshop.
     I believe the giraffe was chosen for this literary piece due to its characteristics of its long neck. It makes sense that when one looks at a giraffe, they imagine being able to simply climb its neck to reach high places, as if it were in fact a ladder. Roal Dahl could have chosen another tall animal such as an elephant or even a jumping kangaroo to play this part. I believe he chose a giraffe in particular because of the resemblance of its long neck to that of a ladder that children always seem to want to climb on.
1. Dahl, Roald. "The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2013.
Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <>.

Giraffes in Art Throughout History

     Giraffes are portrayed in numerous ways in artwork throughout history. In the beginning, giraffes were displayed in artwork through the artist’s admiration for the animal. Currently, while admiration still holds true behind present day giraffe artwork, there are also some that characterizes the species as foolish, unrealistic, and colorful.

Ancient Artwork:

"If Democritus by any means came back from the other world to this, he'd have a good laugh. Whatever the eyes of the crowd were fixed upon—some hybrid monster, perhaps, half camel, half leopard, or an albino elephant—his gaze would be fixed much more attentively upon the crowd itself than on the spectacle. They'd give him more material for laughter.” -Horace, Epistle II.1
Lorenzo de' Medici Receiving Gifts from His Ambassadors (c.1556) by Giorgio Vasari (Palazzo Vecchio, Florence).
"Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful."- Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (XVIII)

Modern Day artwork:
-all images were copied from google image search “giraffe art”
Giraffes being depicted in artwork as unintelligent and foolish:


Giraffes being depicted as colorful and unrealistic through modern artwork


Giraffes portrayed more realistically in today’s art:



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Giraffe Speciesism

     There is little apparent speciesism within the giraffe species. However, since giraffes have nine different subspecies, some are given more attention than others.
     Rothschild giraffes are considered endangered in the wild. More time, effort, and money is given to this subspecies by humans than others. Niger giraffes are also rarer than other subspecies, thus they are given more attention at reproduction efforts.
     Currently, this species is a major tourist attraction in zoos. Some people would argue that it is cruel to keep these large animals in places such as a zoo. From personal experience, I would have to disagree. I have experienced how species such as the giraffe live in a zoo. They are given lots of attention and eat a well-balanced diet with an occasional treat. They do not seem to be stressed or depressed in any way. If they have grown up in a zoo, they have not known a difference. The zookeeper even told me that in the wild a giraffe lives around 10 years, while in captivity such as a zoo they have been known to live up to 25 years. That is over a 100% increase.
     Since this species is such marvel, there has been a giraffe manor set up in Kenya. It is a Rothschild conservation area where tourists can stay. There is a “hotel” set up with open windows. The giraffes stick their heads in looking for food where their human guests are supposed to feed pellets to them. Here is a video:
Not only is the public learning about giraffe conservation, the conservation is using a very unique way to raise money for their efforts.  

Giraffe Ethology

     Not many studies of giraffe intelligence have been conducted throughout time. They are  
though known to be very good at adapting to their environment. When drinking water, giraffes have learned to gulp in order to avoid predators while in a vulnerable position. When it comes to sleeping, being able to move in a matter of seconds in the body of a 3,000 pound animal is not easy. They have adapted to be able to survive on 30 minutes or less of sleep a day.  A giraffe extends its long neck to sleep, reach food, and look out for danger and for male giraffes to establish dominance during mating.
     From personally working with giraffes while interning at a zoo, I have learned they can recognize their given names. To let them out in the morning and to put them to “bed” at night, the zookeeper would call their name to get them to go where he wanted. They are also very intelligent when it comes to food. The giraffes at the zoo were fed at 11 every day. Sure enough, by 10:45 each day they would be at the feeding deck waiting. They also knew that the cardboard box meant leaves of lettuce. They would even become extra greedy sometimes and try to sneak extra pieces out with their long tongues thinking we wouldn’t see. Physically, giraffes are quiet, extremely tall, have excellent eyesight and are considered very intelligent. The intelligence of giraffes is a factor in how quickly they adapt behaviorally in response to changing external stimuli.
     Also within my interning, I had the opportunity to observe the giraffes being clicker trained. The zookeepers would click their clicker for the giraffes to put their nose to a red dot on a stick. The zookeeper would then touch them during the process. Positive reinforcement was also used to do the task asked of them through leaves of lettuce. The giraffes seemed to catch on quickly. This training helps zookeepers’ better care for the species such as trimming their hooves in the future.
     Giraffes have a very interesting social structure. The females generally bond very well together so you will see them in small herds with about 10-12 members. Although giraffes have been seen in larger groups, it has been observed that these larger groups are for extra protection of the young while eating. These larger groups mainly consists of females. The females take turns watching the offspring and then eating.
     Male giraffes, like most other male mammals, compete for dominance. They redeem this title by engaging in necking battles. Older, more mature males end up leaving their former herd. They have been observed to spend most of their time alone unless they are mating. While giraffes are rather non territorial creatures, male giraffes will become territorial to keep other males away from the female they want to mate with. They also become territorial when food is scarce. I have observed this food related territorial behavior while at the zoo. The male giraffe was always dominant and necking his two female mates to move out of the way when getting fed. Zookeepers and interns like myself had to watch for this behavior in order to keep things “fair.” “It seems that giraffes have one of the least structured types of socialization of most animals.” They don’t seem to form that deep bond with others in their herd. They are socially viewed as unintelligent due to their lack of sociality with one another, thus classifying the species as expressing primary emotions.  
1. AmarraE. "The Behavioral Adaptations of Giraffes." EHow.Com. Demand Media, 09 Mar. 2011.
     Web. 07 Nov. 2013. <
2. "Giraffe Social Structure." GiraffeWorlds.Com. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. <http://www.>.

Current Social Perception of Giraffes

     In the present day world, although the giraffe species still suffers from hunting and poachers, they have been useful in scientific experiments and discoveries. Their skin has been observed by scientists for astronaut suits. Why you might ask? Well, because astronauts are in danger of passing out if their blood rushes to their legs. They were hoping that with giraffes being the tallest mammal on earth that this would help come to a means to solve this problem. Sadly, after further research their skin was not of use.
     Giraffes continuously have a presence in modern societies in various art forms. They are depicted in paintings by many famous artists. For example, Salvador Dali drew the species with conflagrates manes in some of his surrealist pieces. He considered the giraffe to be a masculine symbol. Giraffes are also featured in many children’s books such as Roal Dahl’s The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. It has also been featured in many animated films such as The Lion King, Dumbo, and Madagascar. A giraffe is even a mascot for Toy “R” Us, Geoffrey the giraffe. Tanzania has even named the giraffe as its national animal.
     The giraffe species seems to be one of the more popular exhibits within zoos. They are in fact my personal favorite. They are magnificent creatures to observe up close and personal. They move with such grace despite their long legs and necks. They seem to captivate zoo visitors with their unusual characteristics.
     Throughout stories and art, I would classify girrafes as being viewed by society in two ways. In their cartoon movies and books they seem to be depicted as skiddish, fearful, clumsy animals. In paintings and fashion, they are depicted as beautiful, majestic creatures that one should marvel over.

"Giraffe." A-Z-Animals.Com. A-Z Animals, 2008. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <>.

The Giraffe's Social History and Domestication

     When the giraffe was first introduced to humans, they classified it as a cameleopard for its resemblance of a camel and having markings like that of a leopard. Giraffes were first captured by man in the Egyptian times and sent to royalty in hopes of having a malicious animal for gladiators. Their magnificent plan soon backfired. They quickly found that giraffes, despite their intimidating large size, are in fact a very peaceful species. They were then put on display by the wealthy for public observation. In 1414, the first giraffe was placed in a Ming Dynasty zoo in China.            
     Giraffes held traditions in many societies. Bushmen of southern Africa have medicinal dances named after some subspecies. They were performed in hopes of correcting human head alignments. More commonly known are the African folktales that have evolved over the many beliefs of how the species developed their long necks. They have also been known to be kept as pets by the Egyptians and even shipped around the Mediterranean. African tribes hunted giraffes as a source of food. Other body parts were found to be of use to mankind as well. Their tail hairs served as flyswatters, bracelets, necklaces and thread. Shields, sandals, and drums were made using the skin while the strings of musical instruments were from the tendons. Their burning skin was even used by medicine men of Buganda to treat nose bleeds. In the 19th century, hunting giraffes became a sport to European explorers.
"Giraffe." Wikipedia.Org. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 June 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://>.
"Interactions with Other Species." BioWeb. BioWeb.Edu, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2013. <http://>.

The Giraffe Species

     The giraffe is the largest living ruminant. It is an African even-toed, hoofed mammal. A giraffe’s height ranges anywhere from 16-20 feet. It has distinctive coat patterns that relate to its nine different subspecies. Since it is not native to the United States’ wildlife, the giraffe is currently classified as an exotic species.
1. "Giraffe." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 June 2013. Web. 07 Nov. 2013. <http://>.