I love Giraffes, sadly I've never had one as a pet but I've seen plenty of them in various zoos and safari parks throughout the UK - I even saw two in the wild in Kenya, which was a slightly frightening experience as although these are beautifully majestic animals to know nothing is separating you from these MAHOOOOSIVE beasts is ever so slightly disconcerting...
There are at least six sub-species of giraffe but they've moved around so much (by their own efforts, not through being moved by humans) that the non-scientific names given to them are no longer accurate - the most obvious one being the Angolan Giraffe which is now gone completely from Angola and is more likely to be found in Zimbabwe or Zambia (from A-Z!). The sub-species are all very similar to one another with just the height of the giraffe and marking varying, if you saw one giraffe standing alone as a layman with basic knowledge I doubt you'd know which one you were looking at - if you were to see several from different sub-species you'd spot the differences even if you couldn't name them.
Giraffes can run amazingly quickly considering how awkward they look and have been recorded regularly reaching speeds of 35mph across short distances (getting back to the herd before the lion gets them I suppose!) and being able to sustain 10mph for fairly long periods of time (which isn't going to outrun a lion). They live on a plant diet and their height gives them the choice pickings from the tops of trees which can't be reached by many other mammals in their environment, they have problems drinking though and have to get down onto their knees to drink - I'm a little over 5ft and find it awkward to get up off the floor sometimes, imagine being three times the height and having disproportionately skinny 6ft legs to deal with too!
Giraffes are endangered and of course it's down to man. They're hunted for their skins and meat, but the greatest tragedy for this species is loss of habitat as humans cut down their homes and environments in a bid to own and humanise as much of the planet as possible. There are less than 600 Rothschild Giraffes left in the wild now and despite a good proportion of live births the number is decreasing year on year - Kenya have been battling to save this particular species since I lived there in the early 90s and it's a very big deal over there, sadly their breeding programme isn't proving as successful in the long term as was first hoped so it's still a huge worry re: the decline of the Rothschild.
Wonderful animals, not really recommended as a pet (unless you have a very big garden. And a forest.) but definitely one of the must-see creatures in life.
Through rustling leaves and waving fields,
Dainty and graceful
against the sky they are etched...
"Wisdom comes when Balance
between head and heart is stretched.
With eyes steady on the horizon,
our stride is great!
Whether we are contemplative or merely puzzled,
light and dark dapple us in their grand debate.
We all move through awkwardness to grace...
Live as only you can, and Truth is embraced...
Silence is golden, and with feet firmly planted
we may soar to heights where, from every direction,
even tomorrow may be seen...
Live true that powerful visions will be granted.
Gentle and balanced, we live in freedom serene.
Feed from the highest wisdom on Life's great tree,
and you too may learn to live like me!"
who sings now?
"Whosoever wishes to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.
Knowledge is not intelligence.
In searching for the truth be ready for the unexpected.
Change alone is unchanging.
The same road goes both up and down.
The beginning of a circle is also its end.
Not I, but the world says it: all is one.
And yet everything comes in season." ~ Heraklietos of Ephesos
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~Eleanor Roosevelt
"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid any more. We have seen the future and the future is ours." ~ Cesar Chavez
"And ye shall know the truth,and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Giraffe is the tallest mammal and the largest ruminant in the world. Males stand about 19 feet tall and females around 17 feet. Their ability to see so far while remaining firmly planted upon the earth indicates that Giraffe people also have the ability to see ahead and in all directions. Giraffe people excel at intuitive leaps and thinking outside the box, and are often powerful clairvoyants. Like other ruminants (deer, cattle, sheep, goats, etc), Giraffes chew and regurgitate their cud as part of the digestive process. This indicates a need to take time in digesting new information, as well as the general input sensitive Giraffe people receive from the Universe around them.
Giraffes, once called cameleopards, are very unique creatures. Like camels, they can go for long periods without drinking (something like two weeks!), and Acacia leaves, which make up most of a giraffe's diet, have a high water content. Giraffes are at their most unbalanced and vulnerable while bending low to drink, or curled around themselves while sleeping on the ground. Giraffes actually need very little sleep too. In fact, they have the smallest sleep requirement of any mammal. They sleep only as little as 10 minutes or as much as two hours over a 24 hour period! These qualities indicate that Giraffe people are at their most unbalanced and vulnerable when they take their eyes off the horizon, when they let down their guard to relax, and when they participate in emotional events or behaviors. Staying focused on a particular goal is a good idea.
Giraffes can appear both graceful and awkward. They can wrap themselves into an amazingly small package when laying down, and when they rise from this position to their full height, the transformation is most startling. Giraffes are not Territorial creatures and their herds are loosely associate, constantly changing. A given herd may be made up of any mix of bachelors, males, females, young or elders at any time, nor are there are specific leaders. Balanced Giraffe people are sociable, and not exclusive. They often require less sleep, and like to spend their time creatively; their natural restlessness does not necessarily translate into nervous behavior or a drive to work.
Giraffe people treasure individuality and creativity, but are not given to extroverted displays. They often feel that their closest relationship is with their children, and they are very loving parents who are not distressed by their children's independence. For all their individuality, Giraffes are herd animals though... it's just that a giraffe is comfortable at distances of a 1/2 mile from other giraffes in their herd! Giraffe people like personal space, enjoy silence, and know that everyone moves through stages of clumsiness before they become graceful. Movement is good therapy for Giraffe people; dance, martial arts, or some form of exercise helps to keep them grounded, so that they may progress spiritually. Giraffe's silence is reminder to keep our ears open and our own mouths closed.
"I am an evil giraffe, and I shall eat more leaves from this tree then perhaps I should, so that other giraffes may die. "~ Eddie Izzard
"The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created - created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating." ~ Unknown
"Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement. " ~Alfred Adler
"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states." ~Carol Welch
Water is the first Medicine and the greatest gift to Life as we know it. Giraffe reminds us to be respectful of life-giving water, to conserve, to use what we take most efficiently, and also to understand the Balance needed in life when we look at this element within our own lives. Giraffe's 18" long blue or black tongue is specially designed for gathering leaves from the thorny Acacia tree. It is believed that the blue coloring protects their tongues from the sun as they gather their 75 lbs of food per day from the highest branches of the trees around them.
Blue is also the color that symbolizes the element of water, the Spirit world, spiritual lessons, truth, psychic powers, moderation and peace; all of which are important to Giraffe people. Black is the color of wisdom, life, death, balance, power, and mystery!
Are we saying too much, or to the wrong people? Are we remaining silent when we should speak up? Are we allowing the words of others to cause us to react rather than take proper action? Are we encouraging destructive behavior by allowing others to speak inappropriately? Are we shaping thought, word and deed into a harmonious whole? Are we refusing to recognize truth in our lives? Are we resisting change, being too complacent, or refusing to look ahead? Are we talking just to hear our selves? Giraffe can help us answer these questions.
The Acacia, although a powerful influence on Giraffe, is only one potential balancing energy for Giraffe. Acacia ties Giraffe to the Tree/Plant Nation and is worthy of some study by those who feel called by this Teacher. Other ruminants as well as the Okapi, the nearest relative of the Giraffe, should also be studied along with any regular predators like Lion or Crocodile. Okapi emphasizes the lessons of camouflage, living in harmony, polarity, and letting go of the need to react.
The leopard-like jigsaw pattern of Giraffe coats is individual to each, and will remain constant throughout their lives, although coat conditions can change drastically. Their coloring can be pale yellow, gold, earthy orange, reddish brown, or even black, and it is an amazingly effective camouflage. It's got to be good to hide an 18' tall being against a sparse landscape! Looking at the meanings behind the particular color of your Giraffe may give you greater insight, as can the numeric symbology of the number of horns, or ossicones they have. Giraffes are one of the few horned creatures that are born with their horns!
In a Totem, horns are an indication of innate sensitivity, spiritual, intuitive and divine connections, as well as clairvoyant or visionary qualities. Female giraffe horns are more slender and tufted, but the horn tops of the males are soon worn smooth from their sparring. They both develop more ossicones as they mature, the most common being located at the third eye chakra point, with the possibility of two more at the back of the head for a full crown of five ossicones.
The long necks of giraffes have many valves that help pump blood to their elevated heads, and regulate the blood flow from their large hearts to their heads as they move about. Study of all Chakras (particularly Throat) is beneficial, but it is understanding and maintaining a balance between chakras that is the real goal. Giraffe people should also beware any circulatory, heart, or knee/foot problems, as well as problems in perception of or denial of reality. Even the healthiest of us often convince ourselves of what we can and cannot do before we've even tried.
"Emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body." ~Irene Claremont de Castillejo
"Ahhhhh! Nature! It's all over me! Get it off!" Melman, Disney's Madagascar
The four cloven hooves of the swift and powerful giraffe are a reminder that staying grounded is essential for clarity for this highly spiritual creature. Giraffes are capable of covering great distances, and can deliver well-placed kicks powerful enough to crush the skull of an attacking lioness! Melman the Giraffe from Dreamworks animated film Madagascar is an excellent modern example of severely imbalanced Giraffe energy. Melman is a hypochondriac who allows his fears and emotions to rule his decisions. It takes effort to truly see and accept one's self with utter truth and clarity, and if we are not honest with ourselves from this core, we cannot see truth or have real clarity in any other aspect of our lives.
Whether we are choosing to remain blind or are combating a more physical hindrance like say schizophrenia, it is essential to strive for truth and clarity. How to balance between Head and Heart, how to stay grounded while we search for truth, clarity and spirituality, how to master our physical selves (especially through movement therapy) to achieve spiritual awareness, how to guard and strengthen ourselves through silence, and remain flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the future are all essential Giraffe lessons. Giraffe can teach us how to remember the past as we see into the possible futures all the while walking firmly in our present.
Giraffes rarely lay down after their first two weeks. Females give birth standing up and the newborn giraffes impact upon the earth is what starts them breathing! While mortality rates are high for the first year, adult giraffes fall prey to very few predators (lions, hyenas and wild dogs), and they may live up to 25 years in the wild. They can reach speeds of 37 mph, and for all their tremendous strength they are one of the gentlest creatures on the planet. They radiate a sense of loving serenity, and ultimate freedom. I have always been curiously drawn to these creatures.
When I first began looking at the world of Totems and relating to All Our Relations in this way, I was surprised to find how many pictures or figurines of the Giraffe I had acquired over time. When my youngest child asked me what picture she could draw me when she was small, I had not even realized how often I asked for Giraffe until she asked me why I always chose that one!
Once, as a young girl visiting the Los Angeles Zoo, I was intensely startled to have a giraffe I had not seen among the leafy foliage bend over the railing and begin grooming my head. I have never forgotten the feel of that sticky prehensile tongue as she groomed the crown of my head, nor the stir of energy she awakened by this action.
I have come to realize that I have tremendous respect, and fondness, for the lessons that Giraffe teaches us! I will certainly never forget the feel of her muzzle under my child's hand; so like the soft yet prickly muzzles of the horses I had known, yet so clearly different. How does this gentle giant appear in your life?
"Not all those who wander are lost." ~J.R.R. Tolkien
"The giraffe, although from 16-20 feet in height, is perfectly defenseless, and can only trust to the swiftness of its pace and the extraordinary power of vision, for its means of protection. In the Heart of Africa by Sir Samuel White Baker
"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." ~George Washington Carver
"Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out." ~Michael Burke
"Truth only reveals itself when one gives up all preconceived ideas. " ~Shoseki
Hmm - a giraffe as a pet. It's an interesting concept. Well, I guess given that you live in a building that is tall enough to support the height (say, one of those nice old Victorian town houses) then you would possibly consider them as an alternative to a budgie?
Unfortunately, the first thing I think of when I think of giraffes is the smell. I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of them in various zoological institutions, and they were "fragrant" to say the least. They eat up to 100 pounds of food in a single day, so that's gotta go somewhere. Hopefully you'll have a nice big compost bin to go with your big Victorian town house!
They also live between 20 to 25 years so not a pet that you'll be burying in a clown-size shoebox any time soon.
Oh, and the most interesting fact about giraffes? Surely everyone knows this by now, but "The giraffe has the same number of vertebrae in their neck that most other mammals have (seven)" (thank you, http://www.randomgiraffefacts.com - and yes, that is a real website!)
So in summary, if you are a large-house-owning, truckload-of-food-per-day supplying, long-term pet lover with no sense of smell, this could be the perfect pet for you! What are you waiting for!?