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Giraffes are Much More Socialized than People Have Thought

By Yan Han Hsu

Recently, as scientists took a closer look at giraffes, they found out that giraffes are much, much more socialized than they had thought.

On televisions, in the African savanna, we see those long-necked creatures with beautiful patterns eating leaves, drinking water by ponds or rivers. However, have you ever noticed about their interactions? Don’t worry, the communications between giraffes are hard to find, even for scientists. Their interactions are low on visibly, for example, grooming and working together to defend their territory. Scientists were unable to discover these mysterious animals until the technology of digital cameras improved. Now, they are able to track down individuals and examine their behaviors.

Zoe Muller, a wildlife biologist’s research, published in the journal Mammalian, said that the giraffes are highly socialized animals similar to elephants and chimpanzees. The bonds are especially strong between mothers and calves. We could see mothers refusing to go away from deceased calves. Other interesting facts are that mother giraffes actually take turns babysitting, called crèches, and they have lunch buddies. They make friends, too, “like teenagers hanging out,” said Dr. Muller.

One feature common in highly socialized animals is the ‘grandmother hypothesis’. It means mothers live long after they give birth. This helps mothers educate and take care of their children more and decrease the death rate of their children. The most obvious example is humans. Parents are able to help their children for about twenty years until they are able to live in society by themselves, so few of us will lack the ability to work--for animals to search for food and water-- when we grow up. Female giraffes spend thirty percent of their lives “in a post-reproductive" state (which means after birth), while elephants spend twenty three percent, and orcas spend thirty five percent.

From the phenomena above, we could see that giraffes are much more similar to humans than you think. They have feelings, they make friends and mothers feel hurt when they lose their child, too. “Conservation measures will be more successful if we have an accurate understanding of the species’ behavioural ecology.” As more people understand the complex and profound features of giraffes, the less hunts and persecutions there will be.





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