Spotty Evidence

Giraffomania

Spotty Evidence

Some ignorant people doubt that the naturalized giraffe remains housed at the Museum of Natural History in La Rochelle are those of Zarafa, France’s first giraffe who arrived in Marseille in October 1826 and in Paris nine months later. Let us remind them of the clues and evidence accumulated:

– the exhibit label at her feet at  the Museum in La Rochelle could date to the first third of the 19th century;

– the size of the present remains is down to the nearest centimeter closest to the one measured (in inches) by professor Cuvier when he welcomed the living Zarafa to the Museum of Paris;

– the correspondence exchanged between the curator of La Rochelle (Dr Etienne Loppé) and the curator of the National Museum states that La Rochelle was preparing to receive, in 1931, the naturalized remains of “the giraffe of King Charles X”;

– last but not least, I leave it to you to compare the two representations above: on the left, the “Official portrait of the giraffe with its guardian Atir by Nicolas Huet, 1827” commissioned by Cuvier; on the right, a recent photo of the giraffe at La Rochelle. Taking into account that the size and location of the spots represent the “identity card” of a giraffe, and that in 28 years (Zarafa died in 1845) the spots may take a slightly different shape, the conclusion appears obvious.

Olivier LEBLEU

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