The lifespan of a giraffe is typically between 25 and 30 years, although some giraffes in captivity have lived much longer. The oldest recorded giraffe was 31 years old.
In the wild, however, most giraffes do not live past the age of 20.
Giraffes are faced with many predators in the wild, including lions, hyenas, and crocodiles. Because of their large size and long necks, they can be difficult for predators to catch. However, even giraffes are not completely safe from danger.
They can still fall prey to disease, starvation, or territorial fighting with other giraffes.
Their large size and strong immune systems help to keep them healthy, while their social nature means that they have plenty of opportunities for exercise and activity.
While most giraffes do not live past the age of 20 in the wild, some are able to reach older ages if they are given proper care and protection.
Giraffe Life Cycle
The Giraffe gestation period is usually 13 – 15 months and when a pregnant female giraffe is ready to give birth, she makes her way to a calving area that she will use throughout her life.
The moment of birth is dramatic, with the mother giraffe standing on all fours and the calf tumbling onto the ground.
Remarkably, the calf is rarely injured by its fall.
Newborn giraffes are often on their feet within 20 minutes and are soon feeding on their mothers milk. Calves can walk about an hour after birth and can run within 24 hours of birth.
Newborn giraffes are about 6 feet tall and weigh between 100 and 150 pounds.
They grow quickly, gaining about 4 inches in height each month for the first six months of their lives.
The young giraffe will spend its early years nursing from its mother and growing rapidly until it reaches adolescence.
By one year old, they are usually around 12 feet tall.
Giraffe calves are weaned at one year and become fully independent by 15 months of age.
Young giraffes may suckle for up to a year, however, they start to sample plants just a few weeks after birth. Giraffe calves are ready to leave the protection of their mother after 15 – 18 months of development.
Female giraffe calves are fully grown by age five and male giraffe calves by the age of seven.
Giraffes reach sexual maturity in captivity at around 3 – 4 years old, however, in the wild, males do not usually breed until they are 6 – 7 years old. In contrast to the male breeding age, females must be physically larger to carry offspring.
When male giraffes are ready to breed, they begin the ritual combat over mates. Giraffes are non- territorial and a successful male giraffe will mate with receptive female giraffes whenever and wherever it finds them.
Adult giraffes generally have no predators other than lions and humans, as their huge hooves are very effective in defending against predators. Giraffes are more vulnerable when they are lying down or drinking, because this gives lions the opportunity to leap up and seize them by the nose or throat.
Newly born calves are at much greater risk. Despite their mothers best efforts to protect them, over 50 percent of all giraffe newborns are killed by hyenas and big cats such as lions and leopards during the first month of their life.
The giraffe is currently a protected species throughout most of its range and is classed as conservation-dependent by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The giraffes prospects for survival are good for those living in national parks and game reserves, but for animals living outside these areas the future is less secure.
In Africa, the giraffe is a traditional source of hide and hair and also of tough but nutritious meat.
Hunting of giraffes has not yet had a catastrophic effect, as it has on some of Africa’s big-game animals, but it is a cause for concern. The natural habitat of the giraffe is also being impacted more and more by human activities, reducing the animals range.