Y: Hey, Don, my friend wants to go back to work during the day, and she’s looking for a good preschool in town for her daughter. Any suggestions?
D: Hmm. Well, Yaël, I think that depends on what she means by “a good preschool.” I’m guessing she wants somewhere that will protect her daughter and teach her new things.
Y: Somewhere that emphasizes play, too, I think.
D: That’s a natural thing to want. And we’re not the only species that values these things for our children! Giraffes, in fact, sometimes leave their calves in a sort of nursery. Like preschool, this is a group of the community’s young that has a designated babysitter standing guard, usually one of the moms.
Y: That’s impressive. After all, a newborn giraffe is about six feet tall and 200 pounds, so it must take some effort keep an eye on several of them! But I also know that giraffes will suckle until they’re around 18 months old. How does that work with the nursery?
D: Like your friend, mother giraffes have to go out into the world to work—in this case, foraging for food and water. They come back after several hours to nurse their calves. But while they’re gone, they make sure there’s one mother giraffe watching over the young. She protects them from hungry predators, such as hyenas or lions. She’ll also keep an eye on the calves as they learn how to socialize with each other and explore their habitat. That’s when the young giraffes get to play!
Y: Sounds like a lot of fun—for giraffes. Though you still haven’t told me of any preschools in town…