Giraffes are arguably some of the most distinctive mammals on the planet. With their 6 foot neck on top of their 12 foot bodies, it is next to impossible to miss these guys. Standing anywhere from 15-20 feet tall, giraffes have become one of the most sought after attractions on visits to the zoo. These giants are fascinating to watch walk around, and their beauty and gentleness make it hard to walk away. For many wild animals, it is common knowledge that there are more than one species of the same animal. Often the differences in these are noticeable, in size and in features. For example, the African elephant and the Asian elephant do not only differ in size, but in body shape too. Asian elephants have a more arched back and smaller ears while the African elephant stands up taller with larger ears and a dip in its back. You could see two different photos of these guys and know they were not the same. But did you know their were different species of giraffe?
Now that I have mentioned it, it seems obvious. There are actually 4 different species of giraffes and 5 subspecies!
Go ahead and scan through all the images of giraffes in your mind.. can you remember seeing any distinct giraffe? Or do they are look the same? The differences between these species depends on location, but more interestingly the coloring and patterns of their coats.
Here is a break down.
Making home almost all over South Africa, the Southern giraffe have two subspecies, the Angolan giraffe and the South African giraffe.
As you can see, the Southern giraffe has dark irregular patterns. This coloration is what I typically think of when I think of these long necked wonders.
This particular species loves its spots so much, they continue all the way down their legs to the ankles. As you see the other Species, notice how their spots all fade away going down their long legs.
Coming in with three subspecies is the Northern giraffe (West African giraffe, Kordofan giraffe and the Nubian giraffe).
These giraffes live in Northern Africa in the savannas, bushes and forests of Kenya and Southwest Ethiopia – mostly. They have also been found in the Congo and Southern Sudan.
As you can see, these guys are much lighter than their southern kin. Continuing on with the irregular patterns of the Southern giraffe, this species flaunt their spots in a more airy fashion. Do blonde giraffes have more fun?
These guys are pretty unique in that they are actually the largest of all the giraffe species. The Masai giraffes probably have the most noteworthy hides, not only do they have the darkest patterns among their relative species, they are also the most uniquely shaped. Often compared to oak leaves, the spots on these giraffes are not limited to rough circles, they are long and all sorts of funky.
Male Masai giraffes often reach heights of 19.5 feet while the tallest ones ever recorded were a staggering 20 feet!
On your next visit to Africa, you will find these massive creatures on the savannas of Kenya and Tanzania.
Last, but most certainly not least is the Reticulated giraffe, commonly known as the Somali giraffe.
Most common in zoos, this giraffe has those classic, large and seemingly perfect spots with that beautiful white coat in between!
Some time ago this species could have been found all over the African continent. They now are found mostly in the savannahs and forests of Southwestern Somalia, Northern Kenya and the Southern parts of Ethiopia.
For more fun patterns and colors resembling these beautiful animals, check out our giraffe bracelets and learn more about how to donate to their efforts. Stay tuned into our site and we will talk more about these gentle giants in the future and how they could use your help!