By Michael Allin
In October 1826, a boat arrived at Marseille wearing the 1st giraffe ever obvious in France. A royal delivering from Muhammad Ali, Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, to King Charles X, she had already traveled 2,000 miles down the Nile to Alexandria, from the place she had sailed around the Mediterranean status within the carry, her lengthy neck and head sticking out via a gap minimize within the deck. within the spring of 1827, after wintering in Marseille, she used to be rigorously walked 550 miles to Paris to the satisfaction of millions of onlookers.
The viceroy's tribute was once politically influenced: He commanded the Turkish forces then struggling with the Greeks of their battle of independence, and was hoping his present might convince the French to not interfere opposed to him. however the viceroy and his intentions have been speedy forgotten as France fell in love with its "beautiful stranger."
Zarafa chronicles the whole tale of this outstanding animal, revealing a kaleidoscope of historical past, technology, and tradition that opens an unique window at the early 19th century. From the Enlightenment's blossoming fascination with technology to Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Egypt in 1798–from the eminent French naturalist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire to Bernardino Drovetti, French consul basic in Egypt and tomb robber extraordinaire–the period used to be filled with memorable occasions and characters. Michael Allin deftly weaves them into the tale with an appreciation for aspect and an unusual affection.
The giraffe's unusual and beautiful trip associated Africa and Europe in mutual discovery. even though her arrival didn't hold the French out of Ali's conflict, she turned an fast famous person in Paris and over the following eighteen years she involved all of Europe. via Michael Allin's narrative skill, Zarafa stirs the mind's eye because it presents a brand new context for the background of age.