The Tallest Giraffe Ever Recorded

Written by Sarah Psaradelis
Updated: September 14, 2023
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Giraffes are known for being one of the tallest terrestrial animals in the world with their elegantly long necks and legs. These tall creatures roam the grasslands and savannahs of east Africa where they spend most of their day munching on leaves that they can easily reach thanks to their long necks.

Each of the four species of giraffes grows to a different maximum height as an adult, but they all have one thing in common, an impressively long neck. Although your average giraffe only reaches a maximum height of 18 feet (5.5 meters), a giraffe has taken the stand as one of the tallest giraffes in the world.

George was the tallest known Giraffe ever recorded. He stood at a staggering 20 feet tall!

Meet George – The Tallest Giraffe On Record

One of the tallest giraffes ever recorded is George who belongs to the species of Masai bull giraffes. George came to Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom when he was only 18 months old from Kenya on 8 January 1959. At the time of his arrival, George was 19 feet (5.8 meters) tall.

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He stood at a whopping 20 feet (6.1 meters) tall at nine years old. George was so tall that his horns would get stuck through the doors of the giraffe house which made him have to duck below it each time.

Although not only unusually tall, George was also reported to have a cheeky personality. George would use his height to his amusement by bending his neck and picking the hats off people’s heads when they would walk through the door.

animals can kill a lion: giraffe at sunset

George stood at a whooping 20 feet.

©John Ceulemans/Shutterstock.com

George has also been featured in the Guinness World Records for being the tallest giraffe in the world. Unfortunately, George passed away on the 22nd of July in 1969.

Why Was George The Giraffe So Tall?

It is unknown why George was so tall even for a giraffe, but there are some theories. When George arrived at Chester Zoo, he was at the usual height for his species which is a Masai bull. he wasn’t done growing yet even though he was already 19 feet (5.7 meters) tall.

The average Masai giraffe male can grow up to the length that George was when he arrived after four years, which is the typical age a giraffe will stop growing at. George continued to grow until he gained another foot in height. Another factor that contributed to George’s impressive height is that he was a male, and male giraffes are taller than females.

How Tall Are Giraffes?

Heaviest Animals: Giraffe

Giraffes can grow up to 19 feet.

©Craig Fraser/Shutterstock.com

Giraffes are usually around 18 feet (5.5 meters) tall and weigh around 3,000 pounds. Some species of giraffe such as the Masai giraffe grows to around 19 feet (6.1 meters) tall, whereas smaller species such as the Kordofan giraffe only reach between 12 to 15 feet (3.8 to 4.8 meters) in height, making it quite short. The height of a giraffe is both species and gender-dependent, with males being taller and some species growing to a larger height than others.

Even though giraffes are so tall, they are known as a gentle giants and their height is nothing to fear even if it can be intimidating. A giraffe’s neck is its main distinctive feature, and most giraffe necks can reach 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length, but it only contains seven vertebrae just like humans.

The long legs and neck of a giraffe is the main contributor to their tallness, but even though giraffes are naturally tall animals, George’s height was still impressive since giraffes rarely get so tall in both the wild and captivity.

Male Vs Female Giraffes Height Difference

Male giraffes are taller than female giraffes, but not usually by much. The main theory as to why a male giraffe would need a longer neck is because they will fight other male giraffes for females by “necking” or sparring. They use this method to establish dominance and gain the attention of a female giraffe if they win. When male giraffes are sparring, they will try to cause the other giraffe to fall or become unbalanced to win.

The average height of a female giraffe is around 12 to 16 feet (3.8 to 4.8 meters), while male giraffes reach around 16 to 19 feet (4.8 to 5.8 meters), depending on the species. This means that male giraffes will usually weigh more than females because of their height advantage.

Bottom Line

There’s no doubt that giraffes are impressively tall, but George definitely takes the record for being one of the tallest giraffes in the world at 20 feet (6.1 meters) when he was 9 years old.

Even though the height of a giraffe can be quite intimidating, giraffes are known to be gentle giants, although their height can make them appear awkward at times.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Eugen Haag/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sarah is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering aquatic pets, rodents, arachnids, and reptiles. Sarah has over 3 years of experience in writing and researching various animal topics. She is currently working towards furthering her studies in the animal field. A resident of South Africa, Sarah enjoys writing alongside her pets and almost always has her rats perched on her shoulders.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Chester zoo, Available here: https://www.chesterzoo.org/memories/world-record-holder/
  2. Guinness World Records , Available here: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/464584-tallest-giraffe-ever#:~:text=The%20tallest%20giraffe%20ever%20recorded%20was%20a%20Masai,years%20old.%20George%20died%20on%2022%20July%201969.
  3. Zooologist , Available here: https://zooologist.com/how-tall-is-a-giraffe/