Once thought to be a cross between a camel and a leopard, the giraffe is now a commonly recognized animal in its own right. However, spotting one on a Kenya and Tanzania safari is still a treat for nature enthusiasts.
The giraffe is the tallest living animal, measuring as high as 20 feet. Their long necks allow them to reach into trees to maintain their herbivorous diet, and their legs — usually measuring about six feet high — allow them to run at speeds of 35 miles per hour at a gallop.
Quick movements of the giraffe's head on its long neck would seem to cause dizziness in the animal just like it would in humans. However, the giraffe has adapted to have highly elastic blood vessels with a series of valves that help to offset the sudden influx of blood when the head is raised, lowered or swung quickly, preventing fainting in the animal, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.
Early records of the giraffe describe it as "magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive in character." Ancient peoples in Africa revered the animal, and some cultures still do today.
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