A 12-year-old giraffe called Forest – a resident of Australia Zoo in Queensland – has been confirmed as the world’s tallest giraffe, standing at 5.7 m (18 ft 8 in).
Adult males, or bulls, typically measure between 4.6 and 5.5 m (15–18 ft), and even newborns can measure the same height as an adult man at 1.8 m (6 ft), once they have found their legs!
But towering to the same height as a stack of four MINI cars from the ground to the tips of his ossicones (the bony protuberances atop a giraffe’s head), Forest is truly a statuesque specimen.
Forest stands head and shoulders above the other two giraffes at the park (Kebibi and Gigi), where he is the only male in the herd.
He was born at Auckland Zoo in New Zealand in 2007 and was moved to his new home at the age of two.
While the zoo always knew that Forest was big – even among his kind, which of course represent the tallest animal species alive today – the process of measuring his precise stature was far from straightforward.
Staff had to create a specially marked measuring pole and rig it close to a hay dispenser in the giraffe house.
It then took several months to capture the video and photos that Guinness World Records required to assess his height because it took some time for Forest to become familiar with the new feeder.
An instrumental part of the giraffe breeding programme at Australia Zoo, Forest has sired 12 calves over the last decade, with another on the way. So, with Forest’s genes, who knows one of his offspring could go on to claim the record from their father...
It comes as a surprise to many that, in the wild, giraffes (Giraffa camelopardlis) as a species are currently recognized as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and in recent years there have been calls by some conservationists for their status to be upgraded to Endangered.
That is already the case for certain subspecies, such as the Masai giraffe (G. camelopardalis ssp. tippelskirchi), one of the largest subspecies, which was declared Endangered by the IUCN in 2019.
This extra-lofty giraffe isn’t the only record-breaking resident of Australia Zoo, though. The zoo is owned by wildlife royalty, the Irwins (Terri, Bindi and Robert), who are now also joined by Bindi’s fiancé, Chandler Powell.
This A-list Australian family rose to fame in TV series such as Crocodile Hunter, hosted by the late Steve Irwin, who sadly died after an injury inflicted by a sting ray in 2006.
Steve's family continues his passion for animals, running the country’s most popular zoological park, currently filming the third season of their latest Animal Planet documentary series Crikey! It’s the Irwins and overseeing far-ranging conservation projects under the auspices of their Wildlife Warriors charity and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
Bindi herself is a record holder, with the most followers for a TV naturalist on Instagram. She currently has more than 3.5 million followers on the social network, so it's fitting that it was there that she broke the news about their record-breaking giraffe.
Bindi could not be more proud that Forest has joined her as part of the Guinness World Records family: “Our sweetheart Forest has officially made it into the Guinness World Records [books] for being the tallest living giraffe! We are proud of our towering guy, he has such a wonderful heart.”
She added: “Giraffes are doing it tough in the wild, and we're so proud that we can do our part in ensuring this species is around for the generations to come.”
The Irwins’ talents don’t stop there. As well as being a TV star and Wildlife Warrior like his elder sister, Robert Irwin is also an award-winningwildlife photographer with his nature photos having been featured in a variety of publications and exhibitions.
Among his most poignant of photographs (and of the ones he is most proud of) was that of Sudan: the last male northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), who died in 2018. Robert told us at the time: “Wildlife Warriors supports conservation projects all over the world including the protection of wild rhinos at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. We went there to take a look at the great work they're doing, and I had the honour of meeting Sudan...
"It was very moving to spend time with him and photograph him... I hope that the photo gives an idea of how incredible he was and why it's vital to conserve other rhinos."
Forest stars in the upcoming Guinness World Records 2021 book, which hits the shops this autumn and is available for pre-orders now on Amazon.