What Sound Does Giraffe Make?

February 15, 2024

For decades, observers of giraffes in the wild and at zoos have been puzzled by their general silence. Other animals such as lions and pigs are vocal, but giraffes seem to remain tight-lipped. The prevailing belief has been that the giraffe’s long neck makes it impossible for them to get enough air through their throats to vibrate the vocal folds and produce sounds. This led to speculation that giraffes do not have a voice and instead communicate with non-vocal signals such as their famous bleats or low moans.

However, a new study has shown that giraffes can make noise, although it remains unclear why and when they do so. Researchers recently discovered that giraffes at three European zoos were humming every night, primarily in the dark. These sounds weren’t like the roars of lions or the braying and oinking of pigs, but rather a deep hum that was sustained for over 10 seconds. The scientists think that the giraffes are humming to communicate with other members of their herd who might be in another enclosure. This would help them find each other in the dark when they can’t see each other, and might serve some other purpose such as reassuring each other of their location or communicating about food.

Researchers have also found that giraffes make bursts of sound during births. A giraffe baby, called a calf, enters the world in a slow-motion swan dive, with its front feet first then its head, neck, and shoulders. The calf then takes its first breath and is ready to stand up after about an hour.


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