Giraffes can live as long as 25 years on the open grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa and up to 30 years in captivity. However, infant mortality is high among giraffes. Approximately 50 percent of giraffe calves do not survive past six months.

Although giraffes can live up to 30 years in captivity, the normal life span in that type of setting is approximately 13 years for bulls and 17 years for cows.

On the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, giraffes face threats from predators such as lions, hyenas, leopards, crocodiles and wild dogs. Elderly, young and sick giraffes are especially vulnerable to being preyed upon. However, drinking at a watering hole also makes healthy, mature giraffes vulnerable to becoming prey - especially to crocodiles - as a giraffe must spread out its legs and lower its neck to drink.

Giraffes are easily recognized by their tall necks and legs, spotted coats and black tongues. They are the tallest mammals on Earth. The dark blotches found across a giraffe's body serve to camouflage the animal among the tall trees that dot the sub-Saharan grasslands, and vary in complexity, color and size across the nine subspecies. These spots also help giraffes to regulate body temperature, help other giraffes to distinguish among individual members of a herd, and can also indicate age, as giraffe's spots typically darken with age.