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CZAAWE Resource Article
The weight of Rothschild giraffe—Is it really well known?
Year of publication
giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi
Despite being regularly bred in zoos, giraffes remain a challenge, especially in terms of feeding. Assessment of factors influencing growth and weight changes during ontogeny, as well as analysis of weight fluctuations in adult individuals, may become a critical point in captive diet evaluation. Knowledge about weight is a crucial husbandry tool; however, such data are rarely acquired. Using a unique dataset from regularly weighed Rothschild giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) from Prague zoo, we determined the growth functions of male and female giraffes and calculated weight gains during giraffe ontogeny. The mean weights of adult males and females were 1307 ± 52 and 835 ± 45 kg, respectively confirming the large overall dimensions of G. c. rothschildi in comparison with other giraffe subspecies. As the giraffe is a polygynous species showing considerable sexual dimorphism, we expected male calves to have larger first weights and faster growth during the most intensive period of maternal care. Growth rates and daily weight gains were higher in males than in females during the whole postnatal period. Males grew faster and longer than females. However, differences in weight between males and females appeared as late as after 1 year of age. The weight of adult males and non-pregnant adult females fluctuated significantly across seasons, being the highest during the autumn and winter months, respectively which may reflect the different effects of sexual activity and feeding ratios in males and females. Zoo Biol. 35:423–431, 2016. © Wiley Periodicals, Inc.