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Wildlife Wednesdays: Gerenuk and Giraffe ‘Stick Their Necks Out’

posted on January 5th, 2011 by Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., Vice President, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks


Giraffe at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Two species of animals that “stick their necks out” to get to leaves that are too high to be reached by other animals are the gerenuk and the giraffe. While they don’t quite go “neck and neck” (the giraffe is a lot taller) in getting to the shoots, buds, flowers and fruits from trees and shrubs that make up their diet, they both are well adapted to their “neck of the woods.”

Gerenuk at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Well, enough of my feeble attempts at word play! Here are some gerenuk and giraffe fun facts.

Gerenuk:

  • Unlike other gazelles and most antelopes that graze on grasses, gerenuk (which in Somali means “giraffe-necked”) often stand erect on their hind legs and stretch their long necks to browse on trees and taller bushes.
  • Gerenuk are very well adapted to their arid habitat – they don’t need to drink much because they get enough water from the plants they eat.
  • At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Guests can see gerenuk when they visit the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, a self-guided walking tour of native African wildlife. Pangani means “place of enchantment.”

Giraffe:

  • A giraffe’s long neck has seven vertebrae – that’s the same number as humans! The only difference is that each vertebra is about one-foot long, making the giraffe’s neck over 6 feet long. Giraffe also have long tongues – their tongues can be as long as 18 inches.
  • Giraffe also have their own set of unique skin markings, similar to a human fingerprint.
  • At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Guests can see giraffe when they ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

In the wild, the biggest threat to gerenuk and giraffe is habitat loss; the study and protection of the world’s wildlife and ecosystems is the focus of the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has breeding programs for both gerenuk and giraffe in accordance with Association of Zoos and Aquariums Population Management Plans.

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort

2 Comments

1

Cindy from DE on January 5th, 2011 at 9:39 am

Thank you for posting this. I have many pictures of the gerenuk but could not remember what they were called. This was very helpful!!

2

Madelyn from MN on January 5th, 2011 at 8:04 pm

I can only imagine how many shots you had to take to get one with the tongue out. Absolutely National Geographic quality photo. Thanks.

2 Comments