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My son's primary school teacher has written

A kaleidoscope of giraffes

But elsewhere I see a tower of giraffes. And yet elsewhere again I see journey and few others.

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  • This source lists "tower": grammar.yourdictionary.com/word-lists/…
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 15, 2020 at 0:13
  • And so does this one: mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/…
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 15, 2020 at 0:13
  • Note that "kaleidoscope" is a way of describing their appearance (imagine the spots moving this way and that) -- it's not necessarily implying that that is an "official" term.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 15, 2020 at 0:19
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    My quick search came up with tower, herd, corps, journey, totter, and kaleidoscope. But by far the most prevalent was "tower". And herd seems to be used by some African conservation groups. kaleidoscope showed up with the lowest frequency.
    – Jim
    Apr 15, 2020 at 0:44

3 Answers 3

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How about looking at the statistics?

I searched the iWeb corpus for _nn* of giraffes, where the first item matches nouns. Looking at the most relevant nouns, I see these numbers of results for each:

  • herd: 44*
  • tower: 22*
  • herds: 17
  • group: 17*
  • family: 16
  • groups: 6
  • kaleidoscope: 2*
  • menagerie: 1
  • flock: 1

*Includes sites that are listing terms for groups of giraffes

(I suggest looking at the results yourself; it’s easy.)

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  • Thanks for this answer Laurel. I took your advice and looked at the results myself. What an amazing and powerful tool. I'm accepting your answer because I found these stats slightly more helpful (only by a whisker) than the explanation in @No Name's answer which was also very good.
    – Stew-au
    Apr 15, 2020 at 10:26
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What's going on here is that the teacher is engaging in the game of venery, which is just a fancy way of saying "making up names for groups of animals". This is why a pack of lions is a pride and flock of crows is a murder.

For the most part, these terms of venery have no traction in the scientific community. The only exception is the pride of lions - almost nobody calls it a pack, I only did to make my point. Scientifically speaking, giraffes form herds (because they're grazing ungulates that aren't sheep).

That doesn't mean you can't call it a tower or a kaleidoscope of giraffes, even in scientific papers (I'm sure plenty of scientific papers have referred to murders of crows), but you have to be careful to specify the animal the first few times you use the term.

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  • Thanks for this answer No Name. It helped me to understand the why these multiple terms exist. Your answer is helpful as well as correct. However I can only accept one answer as correct (the most helpful one). I found the stats in @Laurel's answer more compelling in helping me choose. Sorry.
    – Stew-au
    Apr 15, 2020 at 10:24
  • No worries. Glad I could help.
    – No Name
    Apr 15, 2020 at 20:24
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Kaleidoscope, tower, herd, troop, kindergarten and corps are all acceptable terminology to describe a group of giraffes. Source: https://africafreak.com/animal-group-names

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  • Thanks for this answer ForeverLearning. Like some of the other answers, it's also correct. However I can only accept one answer as correct (the most helpful one), and I found the stats in @Laurel's answer more compelling in helping me choose. Sorry.
    – Stew-au
    Apr 15, 2020 at 10:23

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