Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris

Michael Allin, Author Walker & Company $22 (215p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1339-1
The baby giraffe was captured in the highlands of Ethiopia and taken to Khartoum. She sailed down the Nile to Alexandria and across the Mediterranean to Marseilles, where she wintered. In April 1827, Zarafa started a 550-mile walk to Paris. She was accompanied by her Nubian handler, three milk cows, two Mouflon sheep, an antelope and one of the foremost scientists of the time, Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire. Zarafa was a gift to Charles X from the Ottoman viceroy to Egypt, Muhammad Ali, who wanted to forge a link with France. The gift was masterminded by Bernardino Dravetti, French consul, personal adviser to the viceroy and the first wholesale tomb robber of modern Egyptology. After 41 days on the road, Zarafa and her party arrived to a triumphant welcome in Paris, where she remained a star at the Jardin des Plantes for the next 18 years. In his first book, Allin spins an enchanting story of Zarafa's journey through the Gallic countryside--the first giraffe in France drew crowds everywhere (30,000 in Lyons). To place the animal's odyssey in perspective, he provides a richly textured background of historical detail, starting with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 and his ""corps des savants,"" who were stranded there for three years. This endearing work will appeal to all animal lovers, and also to those interested in the confluences of natural and human history. Thirty drawings, maps and images not seen by PW. BOMC, QPB and History Book Club selections; author tour. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Paperback - 228 pages - 978-0-385-33411-2
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