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 Post subject: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:36 am 
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I have been meaning to post this on the forum for ages, but never got around to it.

Late winter one year my partner and I set off early one morning from Letaba, heading due south. About a kilometer or two from the camp we came across a dead giraffe lying in the bush a few meters from the side of the road.

A chap and his wife in a bakkie nearby pulled up alongside us and explained what he had seen happen the night before.

He said he had been on his way back to camp just before gate closing time and had come across two giraffes fighting violently at the very spot where the dead giraffe now lay.

He watched as the one giraffe broke the leg of the other, leaving it dying on the ground.

What the chap saw next really surprises me, but he said it with the full conviction that he knew what he saw and didn't doubt it. Personally, I have my doubts, but here it is...

He said the injured giraffe tried numerous times to get up, but with the broken leg it was pretty much immobile. Then, he said, it lifted its head up really high, and smashed it down hard on the ground. Again and again it lifted its head high, then brought it smashing back down on the ground. Until eventually it died.

The guy watching it was adamant that the giraffe was NOT trying to get up - as he had already seen it try to do that for a while - and said it clearly looked as though it was trying to kill itself.

Did anyone else see this incident, or hear anything about it? Or have you heard anything similar to this?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Jeff


Last edited by jeffgordon on Tue Sep 03, 2013 5:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 2:09 am 
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I was reading on another website some stories about animals that "committed suicide" including a giraffe at a Paris zoo that killed itself by hitting it's head repeatedly against the wall of its enclosure after acting "strangely" for a few days.
I've never seen anything happen of this sort and don't know of anyone who has, if it indeed does happen, so let's hope someone else can shed more light on the matter.


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 Post subject: Re: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:01 am 
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Very interesting story, I never heard anything like that before :hmz: :shock:
Also surprising for me that a fighting giraffe breaks a leg of his opponent, I thought they only fight 'neck against neck' and 'head against head' :big_eyes:

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 Post subject: Re: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:40 pm 
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Have never heard of this type of behaviour before, certainly very interesting and thought provoking.
I have witnessed Giraffe fighting with the head and neck swinging, possibly the one head swing missed the neck and collected the leg of the opponent breaking it in the process. :?
Always something new to learn with animal behaviour.

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 Post subject: Re: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:55 pm 
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I donĀ“t think the Giraffe plan to kill himself. What i can imagine that Giraffe got mad because of pain. Breaking bones is alwys painfull. I heard Stories where dogs bite themselfes if they have pain. Maybe that could be the clue...........

But that does not explain, why the Giraff in the Zoo of Paris behave like that..... very myterious

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 Post subject: Re: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:08 pm 
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It is common for giraffe to hit low while fighting. I have seen it quite a few times. They will go for the legs. Strangely enough, they never kick their opponents. I think the idea is to wear out the opponent, not to injure it. Though injuries such as this one do occur.

See here.

I very much doubt the explanation given regarding the death of the giraffe. It is someones interpretation, not necessarily related to facts. A desperate giraffe trying to get up could possibly injure himself in such a way.

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Last edited by Imberbe on Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:28 pm 
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My 10 cents worth. I may appear that the giraffe deliberately banged its head on the ground, but he was probably so tired after the fight, that he could not keep his head up and it slammed back to the ground in what seem to be a deliberate attempt to commit suicide.

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 Post subject: Re: The giraffe that 'committed suicide'
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:28 pm 
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flying cheetah wrote:
Very interesting story, I never heard anything like that before :hmz: :shock:
Also surprising for me that a fighting giraffe breaks a leg of his opponent, I thought they only fight 'neck against neck' and 'head against head' :big_eyes:


You haven't seen a giraffe fighting then :wink:

Neck sparring in giraffe is a very common occurrence and is usually where the 'fighting' ends. In the few years that I worked in the bush I thought this was the extent of giraffe fighting until one day I came across a proper fight where the blows being exchanged where astonishing in power and loudness and the adrenalin of the incident for me was comparable to seeing lions killing a buffalo. It was raw power and I can easily see how they can break legs. It still rates as one of my better sightings.

Imberbe wrote:
I very much doubt the explanation given regarding the death of the giraffe. It is someones interpretation, not necessarily related to facts. A desperate giraffe trying to get up could possibly injure himself in such a way.


I tend to disagree. Although mildly possible for a giraffe to hurt itself while getting up the only incidents that I have seen giraffe in a struggling situation have resulted in mild attempts to get up and no such incident where the head was powerfully coming down as described in the incident.
The documented case of a giraffe carrying out the same type of behaviour in the Paris zoo also suggests suicide.

(this is directed at no-one in particular)
Too many people have this belief that animals are not capable of certain behaviour. I think its sad really that people can be so narrow minded. Do we really assume that we know everything about animals?? Its a bit of a joke that we can have the arrogance to state that its impossible that a giraffe can commit suicide when we really know nothing about these mammals in many ways.

I wish this incident were documented on video as it sounds fascinating whether it was suicide or not and plausible in the fact that if an animal were aware of its hopeless situation that suicide could arise. You can also NOT base a single animals behaviour on the norm as 'exceptions' are possible and its exceptions that are big drivers in evolution whether waning out the weaker or promoting the stronger. :thumbs_up:

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