Giraffe Cost

How Much Does a Giraffe Cost?

Last Updated on February 21, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Have you ever wondered what it would take to own a giraffe? With their impressive height and gentle nature, giraffes are intriguing animals that capture the imaginations of many as potential exotic pets.

However, the costs associated with acquiring and properly caring for a giraffe are substantial. This article will discuss the main expenses if you’re curious about giraffe ownership.

Purchasing and providing for a giraffe requires careful planning and budgeting. From the original purchase price to building proper housing, the costs add up quickly.

Responsible giraffe ownership also involves licensing fees, nutritional needs, enrichment activities, veterinary care, and insurance. While exact costs vary, be prepared to invest upwards of $100,000 or more for the initial purchase and first year of costs alone.

Let’s explore the key cost factors for giraffe buying and care in greater detail:

How Much Does a Giraffe Cost?

A giraffe’s purchase price is the first major expense to budget for. Baby giraffes cost between $10,000 to $15,000. For an adult giraffe, expect to pay around $40,000 to $80,000 or more. Availability is limited, so costs favor sellers. Shop from reputable, conservation-minded dealers when buying a giraffe. reports a price range of $30,000 to $135,000 depending on the current market conditions.

Legal Fees

Permits and licensing requirements to own exotic wildlife like giraffes cost several thousand dollars, depending on your region’s laws. Legal representation from wildlife attorneys also helps navigate regulations.


Transporting a giraffe runs $5,000 to $20,000 via air freight delivery from Africa to the U.S. Proper shipping containers, flights, fuel, animal care during transport, customs clearance, and land transport add up.


Annual exotic pet insurance costs $5,000 or more for giraffes. Full mortality coverage and liability limits are advised. Unexpected veterinary bills can be very high.

Habitat & Living Expenses

EnclosureBuilding a proper giraffe habitat will cost $50,000 to $200,000+. Materials, land prep, specialized fencing and gates suited for giraffes, enrichment elements, manure management system, utilities, and labor significantly add to expenses.

Habitat SetupInitial furnishings and supplies run $5,000 – $10,000 for bedding, feeders, waterers, shelters, toys, substrates, and other habitat elements. Ongoing bedding and substrate replacement costs persist too.

Safety EquipmentSturdy giraffe restraint equipment costs $2,000 to $5,000. Proper restraining gear ensures animal and human safety during procedures.

Maintenance & Care


Annual giraffe food costs are $15,000 to $30,000. Giraffes eat hundreds of pounds of hay, grain, produce, and browse daily. Work with nutritionists to formulate healthy giraffe diets.

Veterinary Care

Giraffe CloseupLike any exotic pet, giraffes require specialized veterinary care which is very expensive. Expect regular checkups and lab work. Medications, vaccines, and emergency care also add unpredictably to costs.

Enrichment Activities

Maintaining animal welfare through enrichment costs $5,000 to $15,000 annually. Giraffes need occupational, physical, sensory, and social enrichment. Rotating novel toys, puzzle feeders, and habitat elements preserves well-being.

Grooming & Cleaning

Daily exhibit cleaning and maintenance tasks take consistent staff time and effort. Hygiene is imperative with large animals like giraffes. Allocate resources for giraffe grooming too.

Legal & Insurance

Licensing Fees – Annual USDA licensing fees are $500 to $1,000 for exhibitors of exotic hoofstock like giraffes. Additional state permit fees apply in most areas.

Insurance PremiumsLiability and mortality coverage premiums cost $5,000 to $10,000 per year for giraffes. Rates depend on giraffe age, facility safety, enclosure specs, and other factors.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a camel, a bison, or an alpaca.

Legal OwnershipLegal services to establish proper giraffe ownership may cost $5,000 to $10,000 initially. Lawyers help navigate exotic animal ownership laws which vary widely. Support good wildlife stewardship.

Additional Financial Considerations

Maintenance Costs

Account for regular habitat, fence, and facility maintenance expenses of $5,000+ annually. Giraffes are hard on fencing and housing due to their size and strength.

Annual Care Budget

Expect first-year costs of $100,000 or much more, including purchase price, shipping, permits, housing, insurance, supplies, food, and other expenses. Create a detailed giraffe care budget.

Long-Term Expenses

Be prepared for lifelong care lasting 20+ years. Giraffes are a large commitment. Ensure you can provide excellent welfare for the giraffe’s entire life span.

Final Words

Costs to budget for giraffe acquisition and ownership include:

  • Purchase price
  • Shipping
  • Permitting and legal fees
  • Insurance premiums
  • Habitat construction
  • Enrichments and supplies
  • Nutrition and feeding
  • Veterinary care
  • Staffing needs
  • Lifetime care commitment

Giraffe ownership is an immense financial investment that requires extensive planning and resources. Being a responsible giraffe owner goes far beyond buying the animal. Lifelong care, enrichment, top-tier facilities, conservation support, and adhering to laws are essential.

If you have the passion, dedication, and resources to properly provide for a giraffe, the costs are justified for a truly unique and captivating exotic pet experience. Work closely with giraffe care experts to ensure good animal welfare and husbandry.

Can giraffe be a pet?

Yes, it is possible to own a giraffe as a pet in some situations. However, giraffe pet ownership has some important caveats and considerations:

  • Giraffes require specialized care and housing that is expensive to provide and maintain. The costs and commitment are substantial.
  • Permits and licensing to own a giraffe legally are limited in many areas, plus regulations vary widely. Extensive research on laws is needed.
  • Giraffes need expert veterinary care from vets trained in exotic species, which can be hard to access. Health issues are challenging.
  • Their specialized diet, enrichment needs, facilities and housing required demand consistent attention and resources for their welfare.
  • Giraffes live 20+ years, so owning one is a long-term commitment to responsible care. They cannot be given up easily.
  • Conservation concerns exist around the captive exotic pet trade. Ensuring sustainable, ethical giraffe acquisition is imperative.

With proper resources and permitting, giraffes can make unique pets. But their specialized needs and welfare must take priority for prospective owners.

How long do giraffes live?

In captivity, giraffes have an average lifespan of 20-25 years. With excellent care and husbandry, giraffes may live over 30 years in some cases. In the wild, average life expectancy is slightly lower, around 15-20 years on average.

Some key factors influencing giraffe lifespan include:

  • Nutrition: Proper nutrition supports longevity. Giraffes need diets high in roughage and low in fat and protein relative to other ruminants.
  • Habitat: Spacious, enriched habitats keep captive giraffes active and healthy. In the wild, food availability impacts lifespan.
  • Veterinary care: Regular checkups and prompt treatment of any illness or injury helps giraffes live longer.
  • Genetics: Some giraffe subspecies have naturally longer lifespans than others on average.
  • Reproduction: Birthing complications negatively impact female lifespan. Males live longer on average.
  • Predators: Main predators like lions or poaching reduce lifespan in the wild.

With excellent care in captivity, giraffes can live for over two decades. Their long lifespan must be prepared for when considering giraffe ownership.

Can giraffes be ridden?

No, giraffes should not be ridden. There are several important reasons why riding giraffes is problematic:

  • Health impacts: A giraffe’s spine and legs cannot properly bear weight from riding, increasing injury risks.
  • Stress: Being ridden is scary and unnatural for giraffes, causing chronic stress.
  • Behavior issues: Riding creates handling difficulties and dangerous behaviors in giraffes.
  • Legal concerns: Riding is illegal and considered animal abuse in many areas.
  • Ethics: Riding simply for amusement disregards giraffe welfare.
  • Safety: Falling from giraffes poses severe injury risks for riders. Giraffes can also strike out.

Responsible giraffe owners and caretakers do not ride giraffes. Human activities should always ensure giraffe health, safety, and wellbeing first and foremost. Humane education, not forced interaction, is key to promoting giraffe conservation.

Human-giraffe interactions like feeding, enrichment activities, and training should only occur voluntarily by the giraffe. Riding or other forced interactions have no place in proper giraffe care and management.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *