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Giraffe Height 101: Is It Taller Than a Bus?

by Gloria Louden
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Spoiler alert: yes, it is, but that’s not the most interesting bit of trivia on giraffe height.

Being the tallest mammals (or even land-based animals) on Earth at an average of about 13–16 feet, giraffes are always a sight to behold. In fact, most people find them almost alien at first glance.

And who can blame them? Even the giraffe’s legs are ridiculously long, often taller than most humans at a shocking 6 feet. Then you have the animal’s absurdly proportioned neck and that long, innocent face. This is one weird-looking beast!

Unsurprisingly, it is exactly this strangeness that makes it so fascinating to us humans. A giraffe’s height is only a number, but it’s the implications of that number that tell the most interesting story.

Baby Giraffe Height: They Start Out Strong

A baby, you say? At 5.9 feet right out of its mother’s womb, few would call a giraffe newborn a baby. It can even stand upright and walk within an hour of being born.

The little ones’ bodies are built to endure their mass right from the get-go! A giraffe baby also matures rather quickly. It starts to nibble on vegetation within a week!

Baby giraffes grow to almost full size within three years and become adults at the age of four. They continue to grow beyond that point, mostly in the neck area.

Male and Female Giraffe Height: Is There a Difference?

As with most mammals, males are larger on average, though calling any giraffe “average” is certainly a stretch (pun intended).

A typical female giraffe is about 14.7 feet tall, while males tend to hover at around 16.4 feet. Proportionally to their height, they also eat more.

And speaking of eating, these gentle giants are insatiable, consuming as much as 75 pounds of food a day. For some very loose reference, your typical human will eat only about 4–4.5 pounds per day. Being tall is high-maintenance!

The Upper Limits of Giraffe Height: How Tall Can They Get?

There are actually two contenders in this field: George and Zulu.

George, who is no longer with us, still holds the title of the world’s tallest giraffe at about 19.7 feet. George was a Masai giraffe, which is considered the tallest subspecies. He was kept in Cheshire Zoo in England, from 1959 until his death in 1969.

Zulu, the tallest living giraffe, stands at a still impressive 19 feet while weighing 1.4 tons. He is, of course, taller than any other animal that is currently in captivity. Should you ever find yourself around Saundersfoot and Tenby, Pembrokeshire, feel free to pay him a visit.

So Who Wins?

With the average bus being only about 9.8 feet tall, determining the winner is easy. The giraffe wins hands down!

It is only when we bring in coaches and double-deckers that this becomes a worthwhile match. Going between 12.5 and 16.2 feet, these can challenge or even defeat the females of the species.

The males, however, easily win that round as well. And for the kings of giraffe height like George or Zulu, there was never any contest, to begin with.

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