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Werribee Open Range Zoo


Giraffes are thought to be one of the largest pollinators in the world, transferring seeds and other plant matter from one tree to another on their noses, lips and tongues. Acacia leaves form the bulk of the giraffe’s diet, but other trees are also browsed. A male, or bull, can eat up to 80kg of leaves each day, along with bark and fruit.

Giraffes are nearly 2 metres in height when first born and males can reach a height of more than 5 metres when fully grown. Excellent eyesight and a good sense of hearing are features of all giraffe subspecies. A giraffe can see a human standing 2km away! Although giraffes don’t have a distinct sound easily identifiable to them, they do communicate with one another through snorts, grunts and low grumbling.

Giraffes have a very characteristic walk of moving both legs on the same side of the body simultaneously so they don’t trip themselves up! If alarmed or being chased, giraffes can run at speeds of 60km/h. In order to defend itself a giraffe will kick out vigorously with its long and powerful legs. Male giraffes will also use their powerful necks and the horn-like ossicones on the top of their head to ‘play fight’ as they are growing up, and to battle for dominance when they are older.

Although as a species giraffe are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN red list), their numbers have declined from over 140,000 to less than 80,000 in under 20 years. There are nine subspecies of giraffe, and each subspecies is distinguished from each other by their coat patterns and geographical locations. Two subspecies, the West African or Nigerian giraffe, and the Rothschild’s giraffe are both listed as Endangered.

Poaching for the giraffe’s pelt, meat and tail has significantly reduced wild populations (the hair that grows at the end of the tail is used for threading beads and making bracelets for the tourist trade). Continued human population growth is encroaching on areas where giraffe formerly roamed freely resulting in competition for natural resources, habitat degradation and fragmentation. Civil unrest and armed conflict in several countries has also had a major impact on giraffe distribution across the African continent.

Visiting our giraffes at the Zoo will not only open your eyes to these wondrous, sky-scraping mega-herbivores, but also provides an opportunity to get involved in Zoos Victoria's Beads for Wildlife conservation program, which helps communities and wildlife in Northern Kenya.


Born 2007

Thembi is very motivated by food and is the ‘greedy guts’ of the group. He eats everything in sight including sunglasses etc. if the keepers are not careful! He is the tallest (only just!) and is the leader of the herd. 


Born 2008

While Harold is quite a shy and cautious giraffe, keeping close to herd mate Ajali, he is really building up his confidence, especially when it comes to his daily weigh-in.


Born 2010

The youngest and smallest giraffe in the herd, Ajali is nicknamed AJ. He is best mates with Harold and likes to accompany him everywhere. He is a curious giraffe and often checks out the rhinos at close range when he is feeling brave.


Born 2008

Kona is a relaxed giraffe, happy to just go with the flow. You can tell which one he is as his coat is much darker in colour than the others.


Born 2010

Jelani is very cheeky and has lots of energy! He is the 'class clown' of the giraffe herd. He gets very excited over food and can be a bit bossy at times. 


Born 2007

Amani is gentle, and much shyer than his half-brother Thembi. He takes a little longer than the others in the group to adapt to change.

Changing Places1

Changing Places

Melbourne Zoo is constantly changing, with new and upgraded surroundings for both the wildlife and Zoo visitors.

A very special new facility opened this morning that will ensure that the Zoo is more accessible and convenient than ever for all Victorians and visitors to the State.

21 September 2015
Giraffe Harold Birthday

Happy Birthday Harold!

Giraffe Harold will mark his seventh birthday on 19 September at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

To mark the occasion he enjoyed an early birthday treat with the herd, a bouquet of wattle – a giraffe favourite and an excellent way to mark the start of spring.

18 September 2015
Shadowfax winery

Shadowfax and the Savannah

Werribee Open Range Zoo and Shadowfax Wines have joined forces to create the perfect day of wine and wildlife at Werribee Park.

Tall Order Giraffe Encounter video

Giraffe Feed Encounter

Get up close and personal with a giraffe at Werribee Open Range Zoo and learn more about this fascinating animal.

  • The giraffe is the tallest of all mammals, males reaching a height of about 5.5 metres and females about 5 metres
  • To circulate blood all through this tall body, the giraffe has the biggest heart of any animal, weighing about 12kg!
  • A giraffe’s tongue can reach up to 45cm long and 8cm wide! The tongue’s dark colour prevents blistering in the sun
  • Always alert for danger, giraffes sleep for approximately two hours a day, and catch quick 5–6 minute naps for the rest of the time
  • Close to 2 metres long, the giraffe’s neck has seven vertebrae like other mammals, just longer. The long neck means great changes in blood pressure as a giraffe lowers or raises its head, so special blood vessels and valves compensate. Without this adaptation, giraffes would faint when blood pressure increased