Pursuing Giraffe: A 1950s Adventure

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Jan 25, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 281 pages

In the 1950s, Anne Innis Dagg was a young zoologist with a lifelong love of giraffe and a dream to study them in Africa. Based on extensive journals and letters home, Pursuing Giraffe vividly chronicles the realization of that dream and the year that she spent studying and documenting giraffe behaviour. Dagg was one of the first zoologists to study wild animals in Africa (before Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey); her memoir captures her youthful enthusiasm for her journey, as well as her näiveté about the complex social and political issues in Africa.

Once in the field, she recorded the complexities of giraffe social relationships but also learned about human relationships in the context of apartheid in South Africa and colonialism in Tanganyika (Tanzania) and Kenya. Hospitality and friendship were readily extended to her as a white woman, but she was shocked by the racism of the colonial whites in Africa. Reflecting the twenty-three-year-old author’s response to an “exotic” world far removed from the Toronto where she grew up, the book records her visits to Zanzibar and Victoria Falls and her climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. Pursuing Giraffe is a fascinating account that has much to say about the status of women in the mid-twentieth century. The book’s foreword by South African novelist Mark Behr (author of The Smell of Apples and Embrace) provides further context for and insights into Dagg’s narrative.

 

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Contents

1 Setting Off
7
2 Adapting to Africa
22
3 Rhodes University
34
4 Driving to Giraffeland
45
5 First Days at Fleur de Lys
53
6 Settling in at Fleur de Lys
68
7 October
83
8 November
98
14 Heading South
187
15 Mbeya to Umtali
203
16 Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls
220
17 Back at Fleur de Lys
232
18 Leaving the Giraffe
244
19 Return to England
259
Epilogue
270
Appendix 1
275

9 December
112
10 Dar es Salaam
128
11 Zanzibar
147
12 Up Kilimanjaro
160
13 To Study East African Giraffe?
173
Appendix 2
277
Selected Readings
279
Glossary
281
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Anne Innis Dagg graduated with a biology degree from the University of Toronto and earned her PhD in animal behaviour from the University of Waterloo—before many women made careers in science. She has published numerous books and articles on animal behaviour and on feminist issues, including The Feminine Gaze: A Canadian Compendium of Non-Fiction Women Authors and Their Books, 1836-1945 (WLU Press, 2001).

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