"Yes, I love him. I love those hick shirts he wears with the boiled cuffs and the way he always has his vest buttoned wrong. He looks like a giraffe, and I love him" ~ Ball of Fire, 1941.
A few weeks ago, Marsh, Daron and I were heading home after an extremely long day at the office. Volleyball season was dragging on as it often does this time of year and deadlines for Yearbook assignments weren’t helping either. Add to that, finals for the first quarter loomed on the horizon. We had started to dream about the days we could go home straight from school without hanging around for the extra four to six hours per night the season sometimes brings.
Coming home any time after five o’clock is a challenge what with traffic behaving even more ‘trafficky’ than usual and we soon found ourselves hung up at a light with cars backed up for what seemed like miles. Dinner and homework would have to wait as we inched along at a snail’s pace towards home and the remainder of the day. About the time the vehicles started to move, Daron (seated traditionally in the backseat) exclaimed,
“Is that a GIRAFFE in the woods?!”
A giraffe? Too late, and wisely not slamming on the brakes, our sedan proceeded and the moment was lost.
Let me mention before we go on any further that the ‘woods’ in question are off Mitchell Hammock Road in Oviedo, not the Serengeti. In the next few weeks, it became a joke to tease Daron with, “Is that a GIRAFFE over there in that parking lot?” or “I think I just saw a GIRAFFE behind the McDonald’s!” And of course, every single time we passed by the ‘spot’ where she first saw the giraffe, Marsh and I made a big show of looking for it once again. Daron, a good sport as always, but clearly not amused. Weeks passed.
Saturday, Daron and I dropped in to our neighborhood post office way out here in east East Orlando. A private road runs alongside the parking lot for the post office and the property abuts the edge of few acres of private property. 'Do Not Enter' and 'Trespassers will be shot': I have never in 18 years seen anyone on the premises. Not a human, not an animal, not a car, not a mobile home. NOTHING.
“Daron,” I said. “What in the world is THAT?”
Closer inspection revealed, you guessed it, a giraffe. Staying on our side of the fence, Daron and I took pictures.
The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a cud-chewing, cool looking, hoofed mammal from Africa, the tallest of all land-living animal species. The giraffe has keen sight, smell and hearing. Giraffe can see miles away, communicating with distant friends. Giraffes can inhabit savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands and prefer areas enriched with Acacia growth. Giraffe are able to spend long periods of time in dry, arid areas, but when searching for food will venture into areas with denser foliage.
The average male is about 17 feet tall and weighs around 3000 pounds, the female is slightly smaller. Giraffe only sleep about two hours a day. The giraffe is related to deer and cattle and its closest relative is the okapi. Its range extends from Chad to South Africa.
A Giraffe In Peking: Painting of a giraffe taken from Africa to China by Admiral Zheng He in 1414. The giraffe spent the remainder of his/her life in a Ming Dynasty zoo.
The Gathering of Manna, 1540, by Francesco Bacchiacca, depicts the first living giraffe to be seen in Italy since the days of Ancient Rome. "The Medici Giraffe", as it was known, was presented to Lorenzo de Medici, Florence, Italy in 1486.
The Nubian Giraffe, by Jacques-Laurent Agasse, 1827, depicts one of three giraffes sent to Europe by Mehmet Ali Pasha. In her lifetime, the giraffe seems not have been given a name, but was referred to as "the giraffe". Now she is known by the name Zarafa, Arabic for "charming" or "lovely one. When she was presented to the King at the chateau of Saint-Cloud in Paris in July, 1827 over 100,000 people came to see her ~ approximately an eighth of the population of Paris at the time. Honoré de Balzac wrote a story about her, Gustave Flaubert (then a young child) travelled from Rouen to Paris to see her. French hair was arranged in towering styles 'à la girafe', spotted fabrics were all the rage, porcelain and other ceramics were painted with giraffe images. At her death eighteen years later, Zarafa’s corpse was stuffed and displayed in the foyer of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris before being moved to the museum at La Rochelle, where it remains to this day.
Other famous and not so famous giraffes:
Geoffrey Giraffe, the Toys "R" Us mascot
Longrack from Beast Wars
Girafarig from Pokémon
Melman from Madagascar
Books about giraffe:
Tall Blondes: A Book About Giraffe by Lynn Sherr
Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys by H.A. Rey
The Medici Giraffe by Marina Belozerskaya
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith and Adjoa Andoh
Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris by Michael Allin
Did you know there is a giraffe cam at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO?
After seeing his picture on a milk carton, our giraffe has decided to go back home after months on the lam.
Why a giraffe? Why not a panther, or a black bear, or maybe a cow, or a gator or a white-tailed deer? What are the chances?
What are the odds?
This post is for Miss Macy D, sweet friend and giraffe devotee.