In polygynous mammals, females are expected to bias maternal investment in favor of male calves. The mother should invest more in males to enhance their reproductive success in adulthood, or the males require greater
investment as they are bigger and stronger than females. In this study, we used nursing duration to compare the difference in the amount of maternal investment provided by females. We compared differences according
to sex of the offspring and the influence of calves’ identification by sniffing, using captive giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) as a model. Since a high intensity of allonursing (nursing of a nonfilial calf) was reported in
giraffes, we also focused on the difference between filial and nonfilial calves. We observed 22 nursing females and 47 suckling calves in four zoological gardens in the Czech Republic from 2007 to 2011. Nursing duration
was longer for male calves than for female calves and for calves sniffed by the nursing female regardless whether the calves were filial or nonfilial. We conclude that male calves are more demanding for the amount of investment received and they are more successful in this effort than female calves. Since females provided investment in the same way to filial and nonfilial calves, selection for higher demand for investment by male than by female offspring should be important for their future development. Our results also demonstrate the importance of sniffing for the identification of the suckling calf by the female.