Can You Ride a Giraffe?

Riding an animal, like a horse, is a great way to connect with them, and as a giraffe lover, with their massive frame, you may be wondering if you can ride a giraffe.

While it may be possible to ride a giraffe, you definitely should NOT. It is not healthy for the giraffe, as their anatomy is not well-suited for riding. They are also non-domesticated animals which would cause unnecessary stress for this gentle giant.

For anyone attempting to ride a giraffe, the saddle position would be awkward and unstable and most likely result in both injuries to yourself and the innocent animal.

In this article, we’re going to explore the reasons why riding a giraffe is a bad idea, so please read on to learn more.

Why you shouldn’t ride a giraffe

There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t ride a giraffe:

  • It’s unhealthy for the giraffe (which should be reason enough).
  • Riding a giraffe is extremely dangerous.
  • Some giraffes are endangered.
  • Giraffes aren’t cheap.
  • Actually riding a giraffe isn’t easy.

Let’s look at each of these points a little further.

Danger to the giraffe

Unlike horses, which can carry 20 percent of their body weight safely, a giraffe’s anatomy is not conducive to bearing any additional weight.

Their spine and legs are already working hard to carry their body weight (which can be over 4,000 pounds for some adult male bulls). Adding your weight, even though it may be modest in comparison, is not only uncomfortable, but it can cause harm to the giraffe.

The additional weight can lead to issues with their spine and joints, which are already working overtime to keep such a large animal in motion.

tall giraffe standing in a field

Riding a giraffe is very dangerous for you as well

Giraffes can grow up to between 14 and 19 feet tall. With an average neck length of around 6 feet, this puts you up about 8 to 13 feet above the ground. And with a saddle, you’ll be even higher.

Their sloping back means you’re more inclined to slide right off their rear. If the fall alone doesn’t cause injury, this would put you behind the giraffe and at a greater risk of getting kicked or stepped on, especially while the giraffe is running.

A giraffe kick can easily be fatal, and its weight could crush you.

Even a fall off the side while stationary equates to falling off the roof of a house. Some people can walk away from this perfectly fine, but for others, this means broken bones, collapsed lungs, internal bleeding, and even death.

Giraffes are listed as a vulnerable species

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has the giraffes listed as a vulnerable species on their red list. This means their population in the wild is decreasing.

They are illegally poached and traded for their meat, bones, leather, and tails, and humans are destroying their habitat. Throw in climate change and the increased difficulties of protecting a species when many African countries where these animals live often experience civil unrest.

There are only about 68,000 mature giraffes left in the wild, which may sound like a lot at first glance, but that is a 40% decrease over the last 3 decades.

If giraffes are put under unnecessary stress, like being ridden for recreation, this will only introduce another threat to their existence.

Getting a Giraffe You Can Ride is Difficult

The only way to ride a giraffe is for the animal to have been raised in captivity and trained to accept riders (which is just cruel and completely unethical).

You also can’t just go off to the pet shop and buy a baby giraffe, you will require a ton of permits and documentation, and no ethical breeder will sell a giraffe to someone that wants to use it as a horse.

Not to mention that giraffes do not do well in captivity, even those in zoos lack proper stimulation and care with few places able to offer the 8+ acres of land a single giraffe needs.

Giraffes live in groups called towers, and the average population is anywhere between 2-66 giraffes.

Keeping a solitary giraffe is inhumane, but owning more than one duplicates the already tremendous costs of housing a giraffe, which involve:

  • The original cost of the giraffe
  • Food
  • Maintenance
  • Veterinary care (which may be difficult to secure)
  • Licensing
  • Habitat creation

All of this can easily enter the millions of dollars range.

Riding a giraffe isn’t easy

Put shortly, the anatomy of a giraffe does not work well for riding.

Their sloped back means you would need a saddle to sit comfortably, but their short and wide barrel makes it difficult to fit one properly. Additionally, you would put greater pressure on their spine if you correct the angle you sit with the saddle.

A giraffe’s long neck would also make it impossible to bridle them with any sense of control. Even if you get a bridle on the giraffe, you’re too far away to have any influence on where they go, and any harsh movements run a greater risk of injury to the giraffe and yourself.

Giraffes are not domesticated. While they are often friendly, they aren’t a fan of being touched, and this makes it difficult to train one to ride.

Could giraffes be domesticated for riding in the future?

Even if giraffes had the body for it, their biology makes them a poor candidate for domestication.

Giraffe gestation clocks in at 15 months, and they don’t mature until they’re about 4 years old. This is a long period of time to take care of a massive animal before you can even start to entertain the possibility of riding it.

You would need a large population to maintain the genetic diversity for healthy giraffes, and a proper-sized breeding pool would be extremely expensive. Giraffes do not have the temperament to be domesticated from the wild, so without this setup, you’re out of luck.

Furthermore, there is no tangible benefit to riding a giraffe, versus riding a horse for example. Humans do not need to ride giraffes and they’re better off being left to roam the savannah in peace.

giraffe on the savannah looking directly at the camera

Final thoughts on riding a giraffe

In a nutshell, riding a giraffe is not a good idea. Giraffes are not domesticated animals and their anatomy is not well-suited for carrying people. The saddle position would be awkward and unstable, which could lead to injuries both to the rider and the giraffe.

If you see anyone offering giraffe rides, report them immediately to the authorities.