Posted In Animals, Education | 5th March 2024

Around the World with Dublin Zoo: Africa and Rothschild’s Giraffes

Meet the tallest residents at Dublin Zoo!

These uniquely spotted gentle giants roam in towers and visitors to Dublin Zoo will be familiar with them in the African Savanna – it can only be the herd of Rothschild’s giraffes! We caught up with keeper Susan to find out more about these majestic, hoofed mammals.

‘We have seven giraffes here at Dublin Zoo: four males and three females. Our males are Tafari, Danni, Seanin and RJ, and our three females are Casey, Emily and Dhorubha,’ she tells us.

While giraffes are unique by the pattern on their coat, Susan has some other ways of telling who’s who in the herd. For some of the males, she explains, ‘Tafari is the largest male, he’s a giant giraffe! He was born at Dublin Zoo and his dad would’ve been quite tall too. RJ is an orange-y colour, he’s a ginger giraffe so he’s easy to recognise in that way. Seanin, the oldest giraffe in the herd, is quite distinctive as his coat is a lovely white between the patches. Danni has one horn that’s bigger than the other so you can tell him from a distance that way’.

For some of the females, she says,’Dhorubha is the shortest giraffe here, while Casey has a lovely white face and she’s a real character, she’s always first to check things out.’

Working with giraffes for as long as Susan has, she’s learned a thing or two about the species personality and describes them as ‘fairly chilled out’.

‘RJ is one of my favourite giraffes to work with. He’s a very confident giraffe. If we introduce anything new, he’s usually straight over to see what’s going on. He also loves his food, which makes him easy to train as it’s easy to motivate him.’

In the wild, giraffes can be found in scattered habitats throughout sub-Saharan dessert and their adaptations are unique to this environment. Some of these include:

  • Their long neck which helps them to reach for leaves at the top of grassland trees and means they avoid competition for food from other herbivores.
  • Their great height which gives them a fantastic advantage for spotting predators and alerting other animals in the savanna to potential threats.

But for Susan, their tongue is their most incredible trait. She says, ‘A giraffe’s tongue is an amazing piece, it’s like an extra finger! It’s prehensile which means they can use it to wrap around branches and strip leaves off.’

‘It’s also purple as it spends so much time out of their mouth as they browse trees for food, and this colour prevents it getting sunburned!’

Watch Dublin Zookeeper Susan share some interesting and fun facts about their herd of giraffes in the African Savanna.

There are four species of giraffe in the wild – the northern, the southern, masai and reticulated. The giraffes at Dublin Zoo are Rothschild’s which is a subspecies of the northern giraffe, and it is estimated that around 2,000 of these remain in the wild.

Since 2012, Dublin Zoo has been supporting the Giraffe Conservation Foundation who work to conserve giraffe in the wild.

Every time you visit Dublin Zoo, you are making a difference for wildlife as a percentage of each ticket is put towards conservation efforts, in Ireland and around the world.

Visit the herd of giraffes in the African Plains at Dublin Zoo. Check out our ‘Plan Your Visit’ section to make the most of your visit.