Thursday 10 April 2014

Giraffe by J M Ledgard and a poem for NaPoWriMo

In 1975, secret police dressed in chemical warfare suits sealed off a zoo in a small Czechslovakian town and ordered the destruction of the largest captive herd of giraffes in the world.

J M Ledgard's novel follows the story of these giraffes from their capture in Africa and their travels to reach Czechslovakia. Part of the story is told in the voice of Snehurka, a beautiful young giraffe with a snow white belly. Also adding their voices to the tale are Emil, a zoologist who studies blood flow and Amina, a sleepwalker in the village who becomes fascinated by the giraffes.

The novel shines a light on the stress the giraffes were put under in their capture and transport to the zoo. Their welfare was totally disregarded to preserve the local domestic animals against a disease there seemed to be no proof the giraffes were suffering from. The last long section of the novel focuses on the slaughter of the giraffes and is very difficult to read.

The novel is also very interesting in terms of the insights it offers into how communism operated in rural Czechslovakia.

Giraffe by J M Ledgard published by Jonathan Cape



We steal these animals from their homes
and destroy the rainforests
build on the plains and poison the waters

then we imprison the animals
if they're lucky in a recreated forest
sometimes just on concrete behind bars

where they pace from side to side
until we either let them free
or kill them because we have

no further use for them.

For NaPoWriMo

I have to admit to having mixed feelings about zoos. We shouldn't need zoos, but given what we've done to the natural world, surely it's better that the animals still live somewhere, even if it is in captivity? Plus a lot of zoos, do work for conservation and do return animals to the wild.

As ever, red text in this post links to other webpages where you can find out more.



The Weaver of Grass said...

I just don't think I could bear to read this Juliet.

RG said...

Tough, tough subject.

Thanks for keeping it on the table ...

Little Miss Titch said...

tricky subject to cover,xx Rachel

Naquillity said...

i think to read that book would be difficult but very much needed to educate those who don't think about animal safety and care. loved your poem. this year there was a zoo that killed a healthy, two year old giraffe because they didn't want inbreeding to continue. bystanders stood by why this giraffe was dissected from top to bottom. it was the saddest thing i've ever read. even sadder was that another zoo wanted the giraffe. but, they didn't get him. it's sad that people want to destroy a life... hope all is well your way. have a great day~

Bill said...

a day at the zoo . . .
the kids would rather be
somewhere else