A Giraffe Stole my Glasses

(But it’s okay, I got them back.)

I’ve been meaning to start making actual blog posts for a while now. I always figured that the first one would either be something to do with books. Turns out it’s going to be a really weird story.

If you’ve been following me elsewhere for a while, you’ll probably know that I do volunteer work at a local animal shelter. Weird stuff happens there sometimes. Most times, even. I’ve had chickens fighting over scraps of mouse meat. I’ve had goats eating my clothes. I’ve had a cat suddenly give birth in the pen I was cleaning. I’m pretty much all set for funny, animal-related stories.

The thing is, I’ve also got an annual pass for a local zoo. I go semi-regularly. It feels good to support them, it’s nice to see what’s going on once in a while, and when you’re not paying at the gate, you don’t have to worry about making the most of your time there or picking a particularly good day. You can just turn up for a couple of hours, even if it’s a cold and rainy couple of hours.

Which is pretty much what I did today: went in, had a wander around, and there was actually quite a lot going on. I think the animals probably behave differently when it’s, say, a drizzly weekday in January, rather than a particularly glorious weekend in the middle of the Summer Holidays. The zoo’s quieter, there aren’t as many people around to spook them.

When I got to the giraffe house, there were actually more staff around than visitors. I’m not entirely sure what was going on, but there were a couple of zookeepers standing between the people-barrier of the giraffe enclosure and the actual fence that keeps the animals in. It’s actually a pretty low fence, with just a couple of wires higher up to stop the bigger giraffes reaching right over. Possibly due to the weather, all the giraffes were indoors. Anyway, the zookeepers were talking to another visitor, and I stuck around to listen to what they were saying. As they were talking, one of the littler giraffes came and stuck their head through the wires to sniff at one of the zookeepers (I’ve seen them do this a lot before–they seem particularly interested in iPads for some reason).

A moment later, another giraffe stuck its head through the wires and started sniffing at me (they have surprisingly bristly noses). I just stood there, partly because it was kind of a novelty, partly because I’ve been around enough animals to know that staying still is usually a pretty good option to take, and sudden movements are usually a bad idea. One of the zookeepers mentioned that the giraffes like to grab ponytails, so I reached up slowly to get mine out of the way. A second later, he mentioned that they also like to grab glasses. Nope. Too late. Just as he said it, the giraffe wrapped its tongue around the frame and just sort of yanked them off my head.

Fortunately, the zookeeper managed to grab them back pretty much immediately. They’re slightly bent out of shape, but if anything I think they fit a little better than before. I only really started wearing them regularly (for work–I’m in a videogame shop, so it helps to be able to read the text on the game spines from as far away as possible) about a month ago, and since I’m still on my first pair of frames, I’m can’t be sure my head hasn’t changed shape slightly since I got them several years ago.

So anyway, that’s probably the weirdest thing that’s happened to me so far this year. I know we’re barely more than a week in, but still, I figure it’ll be a while before anything tops this.



  1. Millie Bee

    The strangest about this story for me was that, in all the years I’ve known you online, I’ve never imagined you with a ponytail or glasses! I wonder why the giraffes like iPads … maybe they see people playing with them a lot and want to see what the fuss is?

    • damonwakes

      Haha! The glasses are kind of an on-and-off thing, but I’ve had a ponytail for the best part of a decade.

      Apparently the giraffes just like shiny metal things. I’ve seen at least one chewing on the steel cables running around their enclosure, and one wrapped its tongue around the antenna of a keeper’s walkie-talkie while I was there. The fact that people tend to hold their iPads up to take photos probably makes them quite appealing to any giraffes small enough to bend down and reach them.

      Either that or they’re really into Fruit Ninja.

  2. A

    Ha, that’s great! Glad to hear you’re still doing the zoo thing. There’s a really cool zoo near me that’s pretty quiet in comparison to your local one. I know what you mean about going at quieter times. I went on a day after all the kids had gone back to school and it was super quiet, maybe less than 20 people in the park and the animals were all really curious and chillaxed in comparison to what I’ve seen in the past. It was a really nice experience – not to mention I could actually see the animals at feeding times rather than being too far back! Also, this is why going to the zoo with a buddy is good – anything funny or weird happens, you’re more likely to have photo evidence :P. I think it’ll be hard to top having your glasses stolen by a giraffe tbh, but as you work with animals you might be in for better luck on that score than most would 😉

    • damonwakes

      Huh–I always thought this one was pretty quiet. I think there’s almost always significantly more than twenty people, though, so maybe not. The only other zoo I can remember being to was Toronto Zoo, and naturally it was really busy. I figure anywhere with pandas and gorillas is probably a pretty big deal year-round.

      There’s almost never a camera handy when this kind of thing happens. Even if anyone’s got one readily available (which is kind of unlikely at the shelter, where it’s liable to get smashed or chewed), anything funny or weird tends to happen so suddenly and be over so fast that there’s no way you can get a photo.

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