How to Approach a Giraffe

Approach a giraffe and learn from its quiet curiosity.
Approach a giraffe and learn from its quiet curiosity. (Image: Buena Vista Images/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Getting up close and experiencing the gentle nature, soft feel and friendly eyes of a giraffe is an incredible way of communing with wildlife. The giraffe is curious by nature and interacts well with humans when in a safe environment. However, the giraffe can be startled easily and will defend itself from other animals and humans if it feels threatened. The giraffe’s best defense against predators is its stature, which allows it to see any animal or human in its surroundings from a distance. This gives the giraffe time to determine whether the intruder is a threat.

Wear simple, neutral-colored clothes. Colorful clothes can make the giraffe uncomfortable.

Behave normally and calmly. Avoid actions such as running, trying to hide, making wild movements or crouching low as if you are going to attack. This type of behavior frightens the animal.

Allow the giraffe to become familiar with you before you approach it. Stand at a distance where it can see you. Giraffes are normally very gentle and let humans come close to them, but they can be dangerous if they feel threatened. An angry giraffe is unlikely to bite, but it can kick, push and stomp any possible enemy, and its immense strength can seriously injure a person.

Listen to the animal trainer's instructions, as he knows the giraffe’s individual behavior and its possible response. Avoid coming into close contact with a giraffe without an animal trainer or guide present.

Turn off the flash on your camera if you plan on taking photos. The flash can scare the giraffe and cause it to attack.

Approach the giraffe slowly. Take your time and avoid walking or running toward it, as this brusque movement makes it nervous and can cause the giraffe to become aggressive. Continue your approach until you are relatively close to the animal.

Stand close but do not approach any further. Wait for the giraffe to become curious and to approach you before reaching up to pet it. Slowly reach your hand out within full view of the animal. Pet the giraffe in the way specified by the trainer.

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