I was recipient of a beautiful gift for my birthday recently. This being a symbolic adoption of a giraffe named Randall who resides in ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Giraffes of course have special meaning to me but this adoption elevated my knowledge and spirit around these most beautiful animals. Today I’ll share what I have learned about Randall, giraffes, and the vast challenges they face for survival.
To begin, I shared how I chose giraffe in the overall context of The Healthy Giraffe in my first blog, Welcome to The Healthy Giraffe. Briefly, giraffes are plant-based and my last name, Graff, is within the giraffe name minus a couple vowels. They can also run fast (faster than you think) which I aspire to do so it seemed like a pretty cool idea to be linked to giraffes…
I went plant-based originally for health and performance reasons. Since consuming myself in education about nutrition I sadly realized the needless suffering animals endure and the negative impacts on the environment. So what started out as a personal journey to feel and perform better I have found myself equally as passionate about the animal and environment side of the equation. More to come on this as I recap my fourth year plant-based anniversary in January but for now let’s get back to the adoption of Randall.
Who do I have to thank for this ever so thoughtful gift? My great friends Eva and Elia Luti who I’ve grown so close to over the last two years. They presented this for my birthday and I really didn’t know what it entailed but I quickly found out. The Share the Care adoption program as described by ZooTampa states it “helps to support expert animal care at the Zoo and global conservation efforts.” Most of the animals at the zoo could not survive in the wild for various reasons.
I learned a lot from the Zoo Keeper, April, about giraffes and Randall. A few cool highlights about Randall:
- 17 years old (birthday – October 12)
- 14 feet tall
- 2,500 pounds (fueling all on plants…yay!)
- Species – Nubian (first specimen recorded…dark chestnut brown spots and no markings on lower legs)
- Before coming to ZooTampa in 2006 he was at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC. They could not house giraffes any longer so he found his new home in Tampa, FL
- Described as the most motivated of the three ZooTampa giraffes…my boy…
Motivated myself to get to know more about Randall and giraffes I did further research. I found a couple great resources:
These are fantastic – here I feature some general information about giraffes along with recent developments:
- Tallest land animals and vary slightly by species (females up to 14 feet; males up to 18 feet; babies born at 6 feet and weight up to 150 pounds)
- Weigh 1,750-2,800 pounds
- Hearts weigh 25 pounds – equivalent to 50 human hearts
- Same amount of neck bones as a human, 7; although the average length is 10 inches for the giraffe and 1/2 inch for a human
- Can run up to 35 miles per hour
- Males use their necks in fights for females and to demonstrate hierarchy
- Sleep 5-30 minutes each day via 1-2 minute nap intervals (usually standing as laying down would subject them to predators); the giraffes in the zoo sleep or rest laying down more than in the wild as they have learned they are safe
- Tongues are 18-21 inches in length and dark purple which keeps them from getting burnt by the sun while eating which they do for up to 20 hours each day. I think I eat up to 20 hours each day…more similarities here…
- The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only organization in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffes in the wild throughout Africa. Two pieces that stuck out to me in their annual report:
- Towards the end of 2018, two of the currently recognized giraffe subspecies had been added as ‘Critically Endangered’
- Human population growth poses the largest threat to giraffes in Africa today. Habitat loss and changes through expanding agriculture and mining, illegal hunting, increasing human-wildlife conflict, and civil unrest are all factors that are pushing giraffes toward extinction. The illegal hunting examples are disgusting and ruthless.
Many of the challenges giraffes face many other animals do as well with too many moving up the endangered species ladder. I will continue to find ways in which I can help eliminate animal cruelty while sharing education and knowledge. My ask here is to educate yourself about what is happening to animals, the environment, and our own bodies and make good decisions. Believe me, several years ago I wasn’t considering any of this but not anymore. I am aware of what is happening and will help the best I can.
I am now a proud supporter and donor to The Giraffe Conservation Foundation and member of ZooTampa. It feels great to help such a worthy cause. Thank you Eva and Elia for inspiring me to dig deeper in helping animals and our environment. More to come…
I hope you enjoy the photos and captions of Randall below.
– Add Health to Your Life