When a baby takes his or her first steps, it's a momentous – and adorable – occasion that usually happens around the child's first birthday. For baby giraffes and zebras (and many other hoofed animals), this event is equally cute but arguably more important. Rather than waiting twelve months to stand up and start tottering along, these animals reach that crucial milestone within an hour of their birth – or sometimes even less.
Animals that can walk and feed themselves from a very young age are known as "precocial" animals (as in "precocious"). They all happen to be prey for other creatures, which explains why the ability to keep up with the group or pack is crucial just minutes after they come into the world. For example, wildebeests (also known as gnus) can walk almost immediately – an essential ability when it comes to outrunning lions, hyenas, and wild dogs.
- Not only do giraffes take their first steps within an hour of birth, but they also drop six feet to the ground when they enter the world.
- Zebras can usually stand up around thirty minutes after birth. Horses take an hour or two and typically master the skill of galloping within just 24 hours.
- It's well known that pigs are smart – and so are piglets. Not only can they walk properly and have full motor control within eight hours of being born, but they can also grasp the concept of mirrors from six weeks. It takes human babies many months to understand reflections.