Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, From Deep In Africa To The Heart Of Paris

Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, From Deep In Africa To The Heart Of Paris

by Michael Allin


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385334112
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/1999
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 343,753
Product dimensions: 5.47(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Michael Allin is the author of Zarafa: A Giraffe’s True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris and the novel The Christmas Kid.

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Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, From Deep In Africa To The Heart Of Paris 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This was a fascinating story. Zarafa was a female giraffe, taken when young from central Africa to be presented as a gift by Muhammad Ali, then Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, to King Charles X of France. Nowhere near her ultimate destination, the problem was figuring out how to get this giraffe, a rather tall animal, from central Africa to Paris. By land and by sea, this was accomplished. Her travels included traveling a length of 3,500 miles down the Nile River and across the Mediterranean Sea. She reached Marseille in the fall of 1826. Then she began her 550 mile trek by land from Marseille to her final home in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France.In the historical background of that time, Zarafa¿s story takes us into the relationship between Egypt and France, including references to the French revolution and Napoleon¿s invasion of Egypt. We also learn about those people who were most instrumental in guaranteeing the giraffe¿s safe journey to what would become the world¿s first zoo.Although the book I read was an advanced, uncorrected proof, I put aside the distractions of poor quality and missing photographs as well as some out of order and redundant information. I was too enthralled with the story of Zarafa herself. I felt both amazement at the fact that this giraffe did so well on her lengthy journey and sadness that such a beautiful creature as she was taken from the wild to live the life prescribed to her by humans.
NielsenGW on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Allin's account of the gifting of a giraffe to French king Charles X from Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali in 1827 is about as interesting as anyone can make it. He tries his best to fold in cultural and historical background as well as biographical tidbits about the people who dealt with the giraffe, but in the end, the interest is fleeting. He does, however, do an excellent job of recreating the scientific attitude of the day in their approach to studying the animal.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Zarafa is the story of a giraffe's remarkable journey from Egypt to Paris. Charles X of France was presented with a young female giraffe as a gift (and political strategy) from the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, Muhammad Ali. I can only imagine what the people of 1845 France thought of this unusual gift. Michael Allin not only sets out to describe this giraffe's amazing two and a half year journey but provide the political, economic and historical backdrop for the trip. What makes Allin's account so enjoyable is his ability to make the supporting subject matter interesting. He gives Zarafa a personality, allowing for the humanization of her traits with such descriptors as "aloof dignity" and "orphaned." This humanizing made it difficult to read the details of how Zarafa's mother was murdered and how her pelt, teeth, tail, meat, etc became commodities.
JNSelko on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Interesting tale of the first Giraffe exhibited in Europe.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This wonderful book chronicles the 4,000 mile trek of a giraffe captured in the Ethiopian highlands then shipped by land and sea from Central Africa to Marseille in Paris.Zarafa was given to King Charles X of France by Muhammad Ali, The Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt in 1827.Rich in historical detail, the author does not bore the reader, but rather weaves fascinating tidbits regarding Africa, Egypt and France during the early 1800's.I learned about the slave trade perpetrated by the Arabs, about Napoleon and his attempt to invade and conquer Egypt, about Muhammad's attempt to capture Alexandria, about the Rosetta stone and much more. This small book is one of the best I've read thus far this year and I highly recommend it.I give it a five star rating.
RevRenee More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful look into history. How a failed military/scientific campaign, led to a discovery that would change our understanding of ancient culture. And how a gentle giraffe, transported from Ethiopia to Paris on a curious, wonderful journey, changed western culture in ways which we aren't even aware. Whatever the motives of the original venture, there is a goodness that surrounds Zarafa's story that transends the usual negative antics attributed to humankind in the 1800's.
This is a great book for young adults. It is a great read for anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was OK, but not what I thought. The first few chapters tells of Egypt-French relations. Kind of hard to wade through. The book improves when the author actually gets to writing about the giraffe and her journey! I would have liked more details about Zarafa, and about her natural habitat, then go on in greater detail about her journey and the reactions of France. I did like the ending, when the author tells what happened to the giraffe and the people who dealt with her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story is not as lighthearted or lively as one might expect from the jacket notes. The first half of the book consists of fascinating but laborious history, and is far from the promised story of a giraffe's raucous journey from the Sudan to Paris. That said, there are plenty of wonderful anecdotes to keep the reader going, and the author does a great job of tying the giraffe's trip and acquaintances into the history of the places she visited. A great book to take on a trip, it really captures a lot of the harrowing aspects of travel, as well as the childlike wonder one feels at finally encountering something one has only ever seen in pictures.