Dwarf giraffes of Namibia and Uganda

There are dwarf giraffes in Uganda and Namibia. Most giraffes grow to between 4.5 and 6 metres in height. In a study published on the British Medical Journal website the Giraffe Conservation Foundation have reported the discovery of a 2.6 metre giraffe in Namibia in 2018. Three years earlier they had found another dwarf giraffe measuring 2.8 m tall in Uganda. They both had the standard long necks but short legs.

Dwarf giraffe
Dwarf giraffe. Photo: Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

The experts have decided that this is a form of dwarfism, specifically skeletal dysplasia. It causes abnormalities in bone development. As they are over the age of one they expect them to survive with a normal lifespan.

Skeletal dysplasia covers several hundreds of conditions that affect bone development, cartilage growth and neurological function. It’s most common form is achondroplasia. In non-medical terms it is called dwarfism. My research indicates that in humans it not only causes short stature but other defects in the animals anatomy such as cleft palate, hearing loss, brittle teeth and bones, vision problems and so on.

In the report about the giraffes in the news media there is no mention of these additional conditions affecting the animals. In the world of purebred cats, dwarf cats are both unpopular and popular. They, too, have short legs and normal-sized bodies much like the giraffes we see in the photographs on this page. However, dwarf cats have two potential ill-health conditions which can affect their longevity.

Dwarf giraffe
Dwarf giraffe. Photo: Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Grumpy Cat was a dwarf cat and she died at the age of 7 as I recall. It seems to me that the experts are optimistic that these giraffes will live a normal lifespan. Also, and I’m commenting as a layperson, the shorter stature may make it harder for them to feed. The whole purpose of their long necks is to feed on the leaves of trees which are normally out of reach. These dwarf giraffes are half the typical height which may limit their access to the foods that they need to maintain good health.

Please note that sometimes embedded images and videos such as the one above, from Twitter, stop working for reasons beyond my control and if this has happened I apologise.

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