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How does a giraffe swallow water?

We’re celebrating the new addition at the Denver Zoo with water-related facts about these long-necked wonders.
A baby giraffe named Dobby was born at the Denver Zoo on Feb. 28, 2017. Photo courtesy of the Denver Zoo.

This picture probably caught your attention last week. It certainly caught ours.

The Denver Zoo welcomed an adorable new addition to their family — a bouncing baby giraffe named Dobby. (Do giraffes bounce?)

The story itself is pretty amazing. Apparently, this was an unexpected birth, and it happened in relatively short order, at least if you compare it to the other giraffe pregnancy making news at the moment.

We keep a close eye on zoo news since Denver Water partners with the Denver Zoo on a number of programs, including providing recycled water to the facility, helping the zoo use water more efficiently and promoting educational opportunities. Plus, we’ve written stories about other water-loving animals at the zoo in the past.

But, giraffes and water? That’s something you probably didn’t think about. Well, we did.

In honor of baby Dobby, here are three water-related questions to ponder about giraffes:

How do giraffes swallow when they drink? You’ve seen the pictures, right? Seriously, how do they swallow in that position? We weren’t the only ones who wondered. A physicist from the University of Hawaii at Hilo wrote about a giraffe’s plunger pump. Yup, a plunger pump. And, we thought we had a complex distribution system.

How much water do giraffes drink? Because of the challenges posed by needing to bend over 10 feet or more to reach the water, adult giraffes may only drink once per day. In fact, giraffes can go without drinking for weeks at a time. They get most of their moisture from the vegetation they eat. That’s what we call efficient water use!

Can giraffes swim? In many cases, it doesn’t appear they need to. Height has its advantages. But once again, we weren’t the only ones who asked this question. A 2010 study concluded that they probably can, but they wouldn’t perform very well. This is probably the closest thing you will ever see to a giraffe taking a dip. (We don’t know why this was made. It just came up in our search and we had to share.)

With that, we wish baby Dobby a long, healthy and clearly happy life — filled with plenty of Denver Water to drink.

Bottoms up, kid!