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Giraffe Safari at Monarto Safari Park

Home > Adelaide > Adventure | Animals and Wildlife | Family | Outdoor | Zoos
by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at
Published August 20th 2022
Giraffes in your face
Ever wondered how it would feel to be up close and personal with giraffes?

The great news is that you can have this wonderful experience out at Monarto Safari Park, around 1-hour drive south-east from Adelaide (70 kms).

This is but one of the many experiences Monarto Safari Park offers to visitors along with others such as Meerkat Mingle, Meet the Rhinos, Black and White Rhino Interactive, A Devilish Native Experience, Lions 360, Lions at Bedtime, Cheetah Experience, Meet the Chimps, as well as several others.

Curious Giraffes up front and personal Monarto Safari Park
Curious Giraffes up front and personal Monarto Safari Park

1. Giraffe Fast Facts

Giraffes are such fascinating creatures that grow to around 5 - 5.9 metres tall for males and between 4.3 and 5.2 metres for females.

Similarly to human fingerprints, no two giraffes have the same coat pattern.

Giraffe's feet are around the size of a dinner plate - a diameter of around 30 cm.

Giraffe's tongues are bluish-purple and between 45 and 50 cms long.

Female giraffes give birth standing up. When the baby giraffe is born, the young fall around 2 metres to the ground. The impact of the fall breaks the placenta and starts the heart and within 1 hour, a newly born giraffe can stand. Quite often mothers will gently also kick the newborn to help take its first breaths of life.

In fact, giraffes normally also sleep standing up. In the wild, there is always a threat from predators, so if they splay their legs/bend their knees, lowering them closer to the ground, then they are much more susceptible as prey.

The ones at Monarto are seen splaying their legs as fortunately, they feel secure and safe, with no threat from predators. Giraffes will also splay their legs to reach water in watering holes, which they only drink once every few days.

The jugular veins in a giraffe have incredibly elastic walls and large one-way valves that allow the veins to expand considerably and prevent the blood from flowing back to the brain when the giraffe's head is lowered.

Blood vessels generally are thickly walled and muscled and the skin on the legs is so tight it acts like compression socks or stockings. Some of these unique adaptations have been studied by scientists at NASA to get inspiration for space suits.

Sadly giraffes are already extinct in around 7 African countries and in some populations, over 50% of all giraffe calves born do not survive their first year. One of the real-time threats facing the survival of giraffes is the encroachment of their habitat, particularly by natural causes, such as the expansion of the Sahara Desert in Africa.

Did you know that the giraffe only sleeps for around 2 hours per day, the shortest of any mammal?

Giraffe calves usually drink milk from their mother until around 9 - 12 months and at 3 months are introduced to leaves, slowly replacing milk for solid food.

A giraffe's' life expectancy is around 25 years.

Monarto Safari Park is home to the largest giraffe herd in Australia and is the most successful giraffe breeding institution in Australasia, welcoming 48 calves into the world.

Giraffes enjoying some munching time Monarto Safari Park
Giraffes enjoying some munching time Monarto Safari Park

2. Giraffe Safari Experience

A maximum group of 11 participants meet at the Visitor Information Centre at 2 pm each day and the experience duration is 50 minutes.

A minibus with an experienced and knowledgeable guide/driver picks you up to drive you around to the giraffe's habitat area. The area you are taken to encompasses the "Bachelor Herd", the males who are in a separate enclosure from the females, particularly those with calves.

Upon arrival, the first thing that strikes you is the massive size and majesty of the giraffes, especially when you are right up close to them. The beautiful colour markings on the body as well as their long eyelashes help soften their majestic appearance.

Giraffes are herbivores and some of their favourite foods are either Mimosa or Acacia leaves. Due to their height, they are considered browsers, not grazers, which means they will munch on the upper canopies of trees, not on ground level.

Monarto offers Acacia as one of their favourite foods and keepers regularly attach branches to feeding stations for giraffes to enjoy. Giraffes can eat up to over 34 kgs of food per day - a massive amount.

One of their favourite treats is carrots, which they relish - a bit like how we might enjoy a fresh cake or pastry from a patisserie with our coffee! As part of the Monarto experience, it can take a little enticing to get the giraffes to stop munching on their acacia and investigate the carrots.

The guide demonstrates to our group how to feed the carrots to them, and with a large bucket of entire carrots (not cut up), the giraffes approach, with their long dark purple tongues slithering and twisting around the girth of the carrot, with it fast disappearing down their throats.

The tongue's length allows the giraffe to reach high up foods along with its height. The dark purple colouring also protects the tongue from the sun and it is thick so as to protect it from thorns in the wild. Fascinatingly, giraffes also don't have upper front teeth, which enable them to chew and rip leaves off branches.

There are plenty of photo opportunities and if you are on your own, the guide will be more than happy to take your photo alongside the munching giraffes with your smartphone/camera.

The time seems to go quite quickly and before too long the bucket of carrots has been emptied and the giraffes then return to the upper reaches of foliage for further nutrition.

Attentive Giraffe at Monarto Safari Park
Attentive Giraffe at Monarto Safari Park

3. Cost

If you are keen to be a part of the Giraffe Safari, a word of warning - like most of the other experiences at Monarto, they book out quite quickly, so suggest you book your experience online before you visit the park. We were fortunate on the day, that there were still 3 spots left, but there is no guarantee this will always be the case.

For an adult, the experience is $55, and for members $50. For concession, the prices are $50 for non-members and $45 for members. For children, it will set them back $40 for a non-member and $35 for a member.

It is also important to remember that this price does not include entry into Monarto. That will be an additional cost of $40.50 for Adults, $29.50 for concessions and $21.50 for children 4 and over (children under 4 free). If you are a member of Zoos SA or other reciprocal Australian Zoos, general admission entry to the park is free.

Female Giraffes with calves Monarto Safari Park
Female Giraffes with calves Monarto Safari Park

4. Conservation benefits

When you buy a ticket for the giraffe safari, part of the proceeds are utilised for several purposes, including maintaining a successful breeding program and partnering with an organisation called Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which raises valuable funds for Twiga Tracker, the largest giraffe GPS satellite tracking program in Africa, which provides important information regarding giraffes' spatial movements and habitat use in the wild.

Majestic Giraffe Monarto Safari Park
Majestic Giraffe Monarto Safari Park

5. Where

You will find Monarto Safari Park at 63 Monarto Road, Monarto. Follow signage off the South-Eastern Freeway before you reach Murray Bridge.

Amazing detail of a Giraffe Monarto Safari Park
Amazing detail of a Giraffe Monarto Safari Park

6. When

Monarto Safari Park is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm, with the last Zu Loop bus leaving the visitor information centre at 3pm.

Guide feeding Giraffes Monarto Safari Park
Guide feeding Giraffes Monarto Safari Park

Overall, a great experience amongst many of the others on offer at Monarto Safari Park. It's one of those places you need to return to several times to fully appreciate and savour the opportunities, without having to travel to Africa!
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Why? An opportunity to see Giraffes up front and personal and experience their majesty.
When: Any time of the year
Phone: 08 8534 4100
Where: Monarto Safari Park
Cost: $40.50 Adult General Admission $55 non member Adult Giraffe Safari
Your Comment
Great article and photos Graeme. My knowledge of giraffes have been immensely increased.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4352) 34 days ago
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