Because of this loose parental bonding, calves band together for companionship for the first four or five months of life (Planet Giraffe, 1999). Calves will browse together, or lie down close beside one another (Mochi and MacClintock, p. 92). They will occasionally wander off alone, but always stay within visual contact of the adults. Groups of young giraffes are sometimes looked after by one or two older females who are beyond child-bearing age while there mothers wander off to browse. Usually there are five or six calves in such a nursery, but there can be as many as twelve. These nurseries form and break up casually, as with all other giraffe groupings (Mochi and MacClintock, p. 92). The young always remain close enough to their family band to retain visual contact with its lookouts (Lavine, p. 61). Though giraffes are mostly silent, calves bleat and make a mewing call, and mothers seeking lost calves will bellow; moaning, snoring, hissing and flute-like sounds have also been heard from giraffes (Worldlife, 1999).
Lavine, S. A. (1986). Wonders of Giraffes. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.
Giraffes are thus somewhat unique, at least among mammals. They form loose associations, but no permanent family groups, or even herds. Because of this, there is no importance placed on mate selection, and they are polyandrous and polygamous through their lifetime. Mating strategies are very simplified, with a young bull following a cow in heat and attempting to mate with her. He may have to follow her for hours before she will accept him, but he is usually successful, unless chased off by an older male. If the mating is successful, a calf is born 15 months later. The mother, with the aid of other cows beyond child-bearing age, cares for the young, with no input whatsoever from the father.
Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis. Available at: email@example.com
Although there is little competition among young bulls for cow's in heat, because of the loose structur