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.
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!