Giraffes’ tongues

I’ve seen a few giraffes before at zoos and safari parks, but never as close up as we did when we visited Dublin zoo. There was a tower of giraffes in an enclosure… tower, yes, that’s the collective name for a group of giraffes. They are truly magnificent animals, and their colour and markings are beautiful.They look a creamy white, almost yellowy sometimes colour with brown or red patterns all over the animal apart from the legs. Each giraffe’s skin colour is unique to him or her, and there is also a difference between the different species, different sized patches of colour, and the shade of colour and the amount of pale fur around the blobs.

This big giraffe that we saw was splendid, a dark chocolatey brown, gorgeous! However, what amazed us was his tongue. At first I though he had a long strip of foliage, or maybe a very long dangly piece of fruit (I don’t know if giraffes eat fruit) but more than anything it looked like a long thin fish. However… it was his tongue! It was so long and dangly and rather repulsive I wondered if he’d had an accident or there was something wrong with him, but no, that was his natural tongue, and he did tuck it away after a while.

zoo (37)

His tongue did look very long, but they can be as long as 20 inches – this one looked longer! They are prehensile tongue and they use it to grab foliage to eat. Their favourite food is a type of prickly acacia and they have to be really careful eating it and apparently their saliva is specially thick and gluey to protect the giraffe’s mouth (yuk) THe tongue is an extraordinary colour, black, blue or purple which maybe stops them getting sunburned while they’re eating!

zoo (38)



  1. Bill Hayes

    The giraffe is certainly one of favorite animals ever since I watched them wandering around freely in Kenya. I didn’t know the collective name for the giraffe was a tower.

    Next time you are in a bookshop and an assistant comes up to you and asks “Can I help you?” you may reply – “Oh, just browsing” and what you will be telling her is that you are a giraffe are eating leaves from the tops of the trees. Many animals graze when they eat, but a giraffe is browsing. Thought you’d like to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Thank you Bill, I’ll remember that! How wonderful to see them in the wild… I don’t really like zoos, but the one in Dublin is closely linked to various countries in Africa and are very aware of supporting animals living in their natural environment.
      I just fell in love with the giraffes… and will now always think of them when I’m in a bookshop!!


      1. Lois

        Yes, you feel as if the future of some species rests in the hands of places like London and Dublin zoos… and no doubt many others too. The emphasis for visitors is definitely on education and understanding rather than gawping at creatures.


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