Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long



Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils.

But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is unlikely to survive for more than a few years.

Julian Fennessy is the co-founder and co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and has a PhD in Biological Sciences from the University of Sydney, where he was taught about anatomy not by giraffes, but by humans.

“Well, if we’re talking a typical giraffes, and it varies slightly,” said Fennessy, “then you’re looking at about 25 years, give or take. It would be highly unusual to see a giraffe live significantly beyond this.”

Harold was first introduced by the Life Education Trust as their primary educator in 1987, making him at least 32 years old, already significantly beyond a giraffe’s typical tenure as a giraffe.

Fennessy was “surprised” to learn that New Zealand children are taught anatomy “by a giraffe.”

“Yes, if you’re serious about that, I mean, that, yes, that does surprise me,” he said, glancing towards both working doorways.

The fact that Harold has already exceeded a giraffe’s average life span by seven years may have something to do with his adherence to a healthy lifestyle, and general avoidance of drugs and alcohol, unlike most giraffes, who Fennessy said were typically “off their tits.”

Also separating him from the average giraffe is the fact that Harold has, on at least one occasion, been to outer space.


The effect of space travel on giraffes is presently unclear, although a 2013 study by China’s space program, the CNSA, found that the life expectancy of giraffes launched into space was typically much shorter than those not launched into space.

If Harold is to succumb to old age in the next few years, it will be incumbent upon the Life Education Trust to find a new mascot. The leading candidate is Griffin’s Cookie Bear, who will extol to children the virtues of avoiding unhealthy food, except for cookies.