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

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

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

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

These spots before your eyes, reader, are a symptom of a prancing giraffe

By Ruth Taunton

Giraffes! They are here!

alive and kicking—emphasis on the kicking—two famous animals that have blazed a trail of publicity across the continent were unloaded yesterday at the San Diego Zoo.

It was a three-hour ordeal. When they finally arrived at their new home, a picturesque building that looks like an illustration from a fairy tale, everyone connected with the work was “ready to collapse” – except Mr. and Mrs. Giraffe.

DADDY LOVES MOM? MAYBE

They had never been housed together before, and just to make sure they didn’t drive each other out — and to keep the zoo’s $7,500 investment at no more than the current price of dead giraffes — the animals were shown separate apartments for a time.

Born in the wild country of south-east Africa, these babies, who are less than three years old, sailed from their native shores last summer and spent 54 days at sea. No one thought of lining their stalls, and they learned of the mal de mer on the last days of the voyage, when a severe September storm swept up the Atlantic coast. Arriving in New York on September 23, they had to be accompanied by quarantine officials for 16 days.

Charles A. Smith, chief keeper at the zoo, spent this time devising ways and means to crate them and send them on a San Diego city truck for the final round home.

SHE WAS NOT A LADY

Loading them wasn’t a day’s work, and in melee Patchy (Mrs. Giraffe) beat 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 giraffe, and Eddie Seuss, the mechanic, began their trek west, the animals’ heads poking out of the top of crates and surprising motorists from ocean to ocean who wondered if they had actually seen it.

At 12:30pm yesterday, Eddie drove the truck through the gates of the San Diego Zoo and all hands followed him to the mountainside where the big city crane was waiting and the camels were wondering what the heck. It was some time before they found out.

THE HAM AND EGG PLAN IS STUFFED

Smith, quick to express his affection for Lofty – the giraffe who didn’t push him – ordered his box to be the first to be unloaded by the whirring, creaking, puffing crane. But getting Mr. Giraffe to leave his crate was another matter. Smith enticed him with an acacia branch. He tried alfalfa and molasses. Advice from the side encouraged him to try ham and eggs. Nothing worked until a couple of hours later he tried the onion.

“The bow,” observed Smith, “has power.”

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