63. The rise of the giants.

I’m going away for a short holiday at the end of the week. The 23thorns brood is going down to the bush. This is a big deal. Over the last few years we haven’t been able to go nearly as often as we’d like to. The place we go to is in a malaria area, and while there are precautions one can take, the kids have been too small to undergo the treatment should they catch it.

This year, though, things are different. I’ve been feeding the kids on a pure McDonalds and Ice-cream diet for months, and now we’re good to go. I’m a bit worried though. In our extended absence, something sinister has been happening. This is a giraffe.

The gentle giant of the African wild. Snort.

The gentle giant of the African wild. Snort.

I’ve always been a bit surprised by people’s reactions to giraffes. When you take people down to the bush who’ve never been there before, and ask them what they would most like to see, the giraffe is often at the top of the list, ahead of lions and leopards and elephants. I do get it, I suppose. Lions and leopards are just big cats. Elephants are quite something, but there is nothing like a giraffe. It manages to be beautiful and freaky looking at the same time. Strangely graceful and strangely awkward. Comically grave and gravely comical.

Well, hello there!

Well, hello there!

What they have always been is utterly charming and just a little awe inspiring. A giraffe is a big animal. It’s huge. A male giraffe is over 6m tall (that’s over 20 feet) and weighs over a ton (2500 pounds). Which makes it a bit of a problem that they’ve decided not to be charming any more. Have a look;

Anyone else having a Jurassic Park flashback?

I have never done a course in body language before, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I don’t think that woman is charmed. Still, it’s no big deal, right? A six metre, 1 ton animal just ran after a car for three miles and made an otherwise perfectly charming looking young woman use some colourful Afrikaans. The experts chalked it up to a hormonal imbalance, rather than the animal simply having been possessed by demons. Come out on safari; it’s nice and warm, and this sort of thing almost never happens.

Oops. That one got close enough to kick off the rear view mirror. It’s not nice to laugh at the naivety of tourists, but I love that that German guy wanted to radio for help. Doesn’t he know that almost all of our elite giraffe emergency response teams are out on strike?

Still, no harm, no foul. No one was hurt and it’s not like you really need a rear view mirror in the bush. There’s not much traffic, and all you’re likely to see is a mad-eyed, hormonally-imbalanced towering freak of nature bearing down on you at an unlikely clip. They can rattle along at over 50km/h (35mph). They decided that one was hormonally imbalanced too. Must be something in the water. There’s no way the giraffes are the vanguard of the coming animal apocalypse.

For what it’s worth, kicking a mirror off a jeep is no big deal for a giraffe. They have feet like dinner plates, and a well-aimed kick can kill a male lion.

This is what is known as a "dignified withdrawal."

This is what is known as a “dignified withdrawal.”

It seems that not all giraffes have been overtaken by the desire to murder cars yet. There’s one outside Bloemfontein which has decided to warm up a bit first, by hurdling over BMW convertibles. I don’t think we have much to fear from her though; she didn’t even make it all the way over. Nobody but the BMW was hurt, and the driver’s seat probably needed a wash anyway. Hormones.

For her next trick, she's going to try and slide underneath.

For her next trick, she’s going to try and slide underneath.

The giraffes aren’t just waging their war on the vehicular front. Last year, a man was head-butted by one. Which sounds funny, in a biker-bar joke sort of way. It’s not. Giraffes might use their feet for fighting lions, but they use their heads for fighting each other. The skull of a male giraffe never stops growing, building up odd shaped bumps of bone. Their necks and heads end up like huge sledgehammers. And they use them like this;

The guy who got head-butted did not end up with a headache. He ended up in intensive care, with severe spinal damage. But no one is to blame here. The man was drawing blood, no doubt for the giraffe’s benefit. The giraffe was being stabbed in the neck by a strange little pink thing. I just hope the guy is doing OK. And they left the giraffe alone. This was not part of the coming giraffocalypse. Just a horrible accident.

As horrible, but less explicable is the unfolding mystery down in Kwazulu Natal. A seventy-year-old man popped out to a local game reserve for his regular morning walk. Hours later, he staggered home covered in blood. “I ran away.” He said. And died. No-one really knows what happened. But there is a prime suspect. A giraffe. With a hormone imbalance.

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

I’m trying very hard not to see a pattern here. It doesn’t pay to be alarmist. It doesn’t pay to be foolhardy either. I’m going to be wrapping Mrs 23thorns and the kids up in bubble-wrap and making them wear crash helmets. It might not protect them from the giraffes, but it will give me a head start if we need to flee. And I’m popping out tomorrow to buy some darts filled with HRT. It never hurts to be prepared.

Anyone know where I can get my hands on a couple of these?

Anyone know where I can get my hands on a couple of these?

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36 thoughts on “63. The rise of the giants.

  1. […] the ones in Africa are hormonally imbalanced. haha These were […]

  2. Loved this post! That’s some quality writing you have there. You gave me a good chuckle for the morning. Thank you!

  3. Buzzwordz says:

    Awesome post! Can’t wait to read the ones from your holiday. Have a wonderful time and be safe

  4. menomama3 says:

    Let me know where you buy those HRT darts. I have some friends I’d like to help out.

  5. I used to think giraffes were charming….. changed my mind a bit now!

  6. narf77 says:

    It was nice knowing you Mr23 Thorns…so long…and thanks for all the owls.

  7. Mag's Corner says:

    Wow!! They get rough don’t they? I never had any idea that giraffes were did something like that. Thanks, for visiting my blog.

    • 23thorns says:

      Lots of surprising animals get a little carried away. Doves, symbols of peace that they are, fight bloody and protracted battles that can be fatal.

  8. As a child, my best friend and I adored anything to do with giraffes, and we were determined that, when we grew up, we were going to share a flat together, and have a giraffe as a pet 🙂

    The nearest we got to that, of course, was having a toy giraffe but, despite aforementioned hormonal imbalances (which, to be honest, would make them perfectly at home with me), I still have a sneaking wish that I’d been born in Africa, instead of London, so I could have a giraffe or two in the neighbourhood 🙂

    I wonder if they’d like living in Wales . . . . . ?

    • 23thorns says:

      Do the Welsh like living in Wales? I heard it was a little damp…

      • My family on my mother’s side are Welsh, but they preferred to live in England.

        As for the weather . . . let’s put it this way, on the day we moved to Wales – after being the hottest summer on record – it started raining,and it didn’t stop for three weeks solid!

        We’ve already had our summer for this year – it was sunny 2 days ago! Lol

  9. Trapper Gale says:

    I had to watch the head butting, neck twisting beat down twice. Wow, I never knew. Fascinating.

  10. sisteranan says:

    i just happened to be wandering past the giraffe enclosure at our local zoo once, carrying a slice of bread, when suddenly something large zoomed down from the sky and i found myself eye to enormous eye with the head of one of these… as he gently plucked the crust from my fingers. If he had chosen to knock me out first, i wouldn’t have stood a chance!

  11. Typehype says:

    Hormonal imbalance LOL!! And I’ve always thought a giraffes were aloof. That’s how they behave at the zoo. And who knew they weighed that much? Must be that long neck. Very slimming.

  12. Aggressive suckers. I had no idea. They appear so charming.

  13. lylekrahn says:

    Downright vicious! But never underestimate the power of McDonalds food.

  14. Mary Southon says:

    Yikes! Who knew?

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