When I first saw this image, I immediately wondered whether giraffes can jump. I did some googling and eventually found Giraffes by Nicole Helget
in which she addresses this question:
A giraffe can also jump, clearing heights of up to five feet (1.5 m). This capability is important, now that many cattle fences have been built in Africa. The neck helps propel the giraffe over obstacles. To jump, the giraffe first pulls its neck back, putting most of its weight over the hind legs. Then it thrusts the neck forward, lifts its front legs, and pushes off with its hind legs.
Knowing that giraffes can jump then made me wonder whether the image could possibly be real though it looks like the giraffe is leaping higher than five feet. But it didn't take me long to track down the source of the picture. It was created by "c_kick" as part of a giraffe-themed b3ta.com photoshop challenge
. (It's also posted on c_kick's personal website, totalleh.com
But this is where the photo investigation got a bit strange, because in the course of tracking down the source of the image I found an older picture from which c_kick presumably cut-and-pasted the leaping giraffe. And this older image is more puzzling than the leaping giraffe one. It shows a giraffe that looks like it's trying to mate with a donkey.
The giraffes in the two pictures are definitely one and the same. That's easy to see when the two photos are placed side-by-side.
And the mating-giraffe picture is definitely older than the leaping-giraffe one, which c_kick created in July 2010. There are discussions of the mating-giraffe pic that date back to early 2008. Most of these "discussions" are along the lines of, "OMG Epic FAIL!!!!" But I did find one intelligent discussion of the picture posted by Darren Naish on the Tetrapod Zoology blog
in November 2008.
Darren notes that attempted interspecies matings are far more common than people think, especially in captivity. But in the comments left on his post, people note that the giraffe in the picture appears to be a female. Therefore, it wouldn't be mating with the donkey. Though it might be a case of "assertive dominance" or "fake humping". But others are doubtful that the giraffe and donkey are even making contact, since the donkey seems strangely unconcerned about what's happening. Forced perspective could be making the two animals appear closer than they really were.
And finally, the question is raised of whether this mating-giraffe picture is even real. Is it photoshopped? Felicia asks: "Where the hell are the giraffe's front legs? It's not on its knees and the legs are not splayed - they point straight into the ground."
That's a good question. Where are the giraffe's front legs?
So it could be that both images featuring the giraffe are photoshopped. Though I'm not yet completely convinced the mating one is. I suspect that the angle of the shot could be hiding the giraffe's legs — for instance, if the ground on which the giraffe is standing slopes downward. To fully settle the question, one would need some kind of fancy forensic photo-analysis software, which I don't have.
So that's where my research into the leaping and mating giraffe ends. But while I'm on the subject of giraffes, here are some other fake giraffe pictures I found while browsing through giraffe images on google: