California News

The first giraffes arrived at the San Diego Zoo by truck in 1938

In October 1938, the first breeding pair of giraffes arrived at the San Diego Zoo from East Africa. Lofty and Patches became national figures when they made the last leg of the journey from South East Africa – a transcontinental trip from New York by truck.

Lofty and Patches lived at the San Diego Zoo for nearly 30 years and had seven children, including Raffy, D-Day (born June 6, 1946), Rusty, Patty, and Lofty Jr.

From the San Diego Union, Wednesday, October 26, 1938:

Those spots in front of your eyes, reader, are a symptom of a galloping giraffe

By Ruth Taunton

Giraffes! They are there!

Alive and healthy – accent on the kicks – the two much-heralded animals that have blazed the trail for publicity across the continent were unloaded at the San Diego Zoo yesterday.

It was a three hour ordeal. When they finally arrived at their new home, a quaint building that looks like something out of a fairy tale illustration, everyone who was bound to work was “ready to collapse” – except for Mr. and Mrs. Giraffe.


They’ve never kept the house together before, and just to make sure they don’t cut daylight – and that the zoo’s $7,500 investment isn’t worth more than the current listing on giraffes dead – the animals were shown in separate apartments for the time being.

Born in the wild land of southeast Africa, these babies under three left their native shores last summer and spent 54 days at sea. No one thought of stuffing their stalls, and they learned wrong of sea in the last days of the voyage when the big storm of September swept the Atlantic coast. Arriving in New York on September 23, they had to keep quarantine officers company for 16 days.

Charles A. Smith, the zoo’s chief keeper, was spending that time devising ways to put them in crates and on a truck to the city of San Diego for the final ride home.


Loading them up wasn’t a day’s work and in the melee, Patches (Ms. Giraffe), knocked Smith down more than once.

“I learned to expect it,” he said yesterday, “but I never learned to like it.”

Two weeks ago last night, Smith, the Giraffes and mechanic Eddie Seuss began the trek west, animal heads peeking from the tops of crates and astonishing motorists from coast to coast wondering if they had really seen him.

At 12:30 p.m. yesterday Eddie drove the truck through the gates of the San Diego Zoological Gardens and all hands followed him to the mesa where the big city crane was waiting and the camels were wondering what the heck. It took some time before they found out.


Smith, who was quick to express his affection for Lofty – the giraffe who didn’t kick him – ordered his crate to be the first to be unloaded by the purring, creaking, huffing crane. But getting Mr. Giraffe out of his fund was another matter. Smith lured him with an acacia branch. He tried alfalfa and molasses. Advice from the sidelines prompted him to try ham and eggs. Nothing worked until after a few hours he tried an onion.

“Onions,” Smith observed, “have power.”

California Daily Newspapers

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button