After visiting the tigers, the giraffe enclosure was always the second destination on our family’s visit to the zoo. These magnificent creatures are so unique and loved by many. I thought it would be fun to compile a collection of the best vintage giraffe drawings and illustrations in the public domain.
Part of the fascination with giraffes may be due to their size. They are the tallest living mammals often taller than three men. They also have the longest tails of any creature, up to 8ft in length. It’s not just their necks that give giraffes height but also their legs which can be over 6ft long. They also have very appealing faces, with big eyes and long lashes.
Giraffes have been a fascination for many cultures and civilizations over the centuries, for their peculiar appearance. Giraffe drawings have featured in paintings, books and even rock engravings. The Kiffians were known for the world’s largest rock art of a life-size engraving of two giraffes, dated 8,000 years ago. The Egyptians gave the giraffe its own hieroglyph.
The Egyptians even shipped giraffes across the Medetarian to the Greeks and Romans. These cultures called the animals Camelopardalis as they believed that giraffes were an unnatural hybrid of a camel and a leopard. In the 15th century, a giraffe made it as far as China and was placed in a Ming dynasty zoo by the explorer Zheng He.
Fun Facts About Giraffes
- Giraffes are native to Africa and inhabit the savannahs and woodlands.
- There are about 100,000 giraffes in the wild.
- They live for up to 25 years in the wild and 40 years in captivity.
- At full speed, a giraffe can run at about 35 miles per hour
- The pattern of spots on a Giraffe’s coat is completely unique to them.
- The spots on a Giraffe are also part of a system for regulating body temperature.
- Giraffes may have the longest necks in the animal kingdom, but because of their long legs, they aren’t long enough to reach the ground. That is why giraffes splay their legs to drink.
- Their main food source is leaves, fruits and flowers of woody plants, primarily acacia species. With their long necks and tongues, they can reach the leaves most other herbivores can’t.
- Giraffes spend most of their life standing, they even give birth standing up.
- Giraffes sleep standing up and only sleep for very short periods. They sleep for about 10 minutes every 24 hours.
The Vintage Giraffe Drawings and Illustrations
A few giraffe drawings have already appeared in some of the zoological image collections on Pictureboxblue. They have featured on the animal posters of Larousse and in the collection of Animal prints from “Dictionnaire Universel D’histoire Naturelle“.
Here I have found many more giraffe drawings and illustrations which are in the Public Domain. To download the giraffe illustration you want, just click on the title above that image. A higher resolution drawing should open in a new browser on your device. If you right-click on that image with your mouse, you will have the option to save it to your hard drive.
If you are visiting this post because you want to draw or paint a giraffe, then you will probably enjoy this illustration from the French book “Les Animaux tels qu’ils sont“, (animals as they are).
There is another one of these prints that shows how to draw elephants here.
This colourful giraffe illustration is from an old German Text book.
This black and white drawing of giraffe is from the, French Iconography of the animal kingdom by G. Cuvier.
Natural history giraffe illustration from the Iconographia Zoologica collection at the University of Amsterdam.
Another Giraffe sketch from the Iconographia Zoologica collection.
One male and two female giraffes with a zoo keeper, from the Iconographia Zoologica collection.
A sketch of giraffes and ostriches on the banks of the White Nile. Image is taken from the book “Travels in Africa during the years 1875-1878” by A. H. Keane, available from the British Library.
The accompanying text to this 1812 giraffe print is, “A companion to Mr. Bullock’s London Museum and Pantherion: containing a brief description of upwards of fifteen thousand natural and foreign curiosities, antiquities, and productions of the fine arts, collected during seventeen years of arduous research, and at an expense of thirty thousand pounds: and now open for public inspection in the Egyptian Temple, just erected for its reception, in Piccadilly, London, opposite the end of Bond-Street.”
From William Patterson’s “A narrative of four journeys into the country of the Hottentots, and Caffraria“, 1789.
An illustration of a zoo with giraffes, tigers, and a peacock. From the Welcome collection London.
1903 giraffe drawing from the British Museum “Animal life and the world of nature: a magazine of natural history throughout the world.”
From the 1910 book ” Big game hunting in Africa and other lands; the appearance, habits, traits of character and every detail of wild animal life .”
An 1890 sketch of a giraffe splaying it’s legs so that it’s mouth can reach the ground.
1861 Giraffe illustration from Charles Orbigny “Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle: atlas“
From ” Fairland’s juvenile artist, or, Easy studies for beginners in drawing, of figures, animals, shipping, and landscape”, by Thomas Fairland 1838.
Three head drawings from “Great & Small, Game of Africa“, 1899.
Study of the Giraffe Given to Charles X by the Viceroy of Egypt 1827.
A 19th century painting of giraffes.