Does the giraffe have a voice?

It is commonly said that the giraffe is absolutely voiceless and is the only four-footed mammal that does not make some vocal sound characteristic of the species. Dr. William M. Mann, director of the [365] National Zoological Park, wrote to the author March 19,1931: “I believe it is true that the giraffe has no characteristic voice’ at all. I have never heard one make any noise and it is generally said that they do not.” It may be true that the giraffe is virtually voiceless, but there is evidence that it does occasionally utter a feeble sound characteristic of the species. Claude W. Leister, assistant to the director of the New York Zoological Park, wrote to the author on this subject as follows: “The giraffe does have a voice, at least it is able to utter a lowing sound. We have heard our female giraffe utter such a sound upon certain occasions when she was especially concerned as to the welfare of her young.” Later, with the full knowledge of the ‘controversy on this subject, the New York Zoological Society, which operates the Bronx zoo, in its official bulletin reported that at 9:50 A.M. on October 25, 1943, the female reticulated giraffe in the zoo definitely uttered the sound “moooo” while being inspected by the veterinarian. The 1936 annual report of the Game Warden of Kenya, Africa, stated that a young giraffe when separated from its mother will bawl and low like a hungry calf. As a matter of fact, it is doubtful whether any species of large four-footed animal is absolutely voiceless; the larynx in giraffes is poorly developed and members of this species generally utter no sound, even when greatly excited, but it appears that some of them at least do occasionally utter staccato grunts, mild snorts and lowing sounds.