How To Keep Your Giraffe Warm

When the weather outside is frightful

photo of wild giraffes of different sizes standing in trees

Must Keep Warm

Roland on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

It's getting cold out there. Are you keeping your giraffes warm?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a short factsheet with tips on how to care for captive giraffes the winter in temperate regions. It is unclear when the USDA published the sheet, but we just recently found it and learned so much from it. To wit:

They are highly susceptible to cold temperatures (below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) because they do not acclimate to the cold as effectively as most other mammals. Once a giraffe has become chilled, it is difficult for the animal to regain its proper body temperature without an external heat source. . . . There have been many giraffe deaths caused in part or entirely by cold weather conditions.

Oh, no! Giraffes need heated barns, we learned. Plus, because they are so tall, you have to make sure their entire bodies stay warm. If not, the USDA warns, they may suffer: "One giraffe became hypothermic and died inside a heated, albeit drafty, barn where the upper level of the barn was nearly 70 degrees but the lower area was only 45 degrees."

In New York City's Bronx Zoo, giraffes and other cold-sensitive animals stay indoors throughout the winter. Hardier beasts, such as tigers, may still come out even when it's snowy. In fact, Bronx zookeepers often lure tigers into their exhibits with electrically heated rocks, Scienceline reports, so that human visitors can see them.