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The Zoo in Pictures, Part 1: Giraffes. Especially Gordon.

My sweet friend Patty Callahan Henry and her daughter Meghan used their awesomeness to get the COMPLETELY AMAZING Marcia (B-Ham’s large mammal curator) to take me and Susan Rebecca White on a special ZOO TOUR in honor of Susan’s Birthday and my existential angst ridden mid-life crisis. I have to tell you—this was the kindest thing. Maybe ever. Nothing soothes a troubled soul like making out with a giraffe. REALLY.

This is Gordon:

Gordon and I are using bamboo to re-enact that spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. He is, let us be clear here, the tramp. Ahem.

Gordon is a YOUNG giraffe, and his mother did not have sufficient milk, so he was bottle fed by people. Which means he is VERY cuddlesome and friendly. He let me scratch him and preened his head at me like a cat so I could get at his ears. He is a LAP giraffe.

Here Susan is rawwwthere reverently kissing Eddie, while I peek over her head just FROTHING with love and Gordon joy.

Best day of the year. And OH but I needed it. Over the course of this rather hideous, bronchitis and steroid riddled October, I have gained more than ten pounds and senselessly attacked two friends. Steroids? Are bad.

They swell you up like the Stay Puft man and make you INSANE. I tried very hard to AVOID my friends until it was over, because anything anyone said to me felt like a SERIOUS and cruel dig at me. And I responded with fire bombs and bitter accusations.

The drugs feel mostly out of my system, my body is starting to unpuff, and I am glad I had an ALMOST NO COMMUNICATION policy during the steroid part or I might not have a friend left.

But the giraffe’s fixed me. In a lot of ways. I mean, I am even done with the part where I was SAD and floppy. I never got to put my fake it til you make it plan into practice because the sorrow seems to have naturally abated, and the giraffes blew the last threads of it away. I look INSANE in these pictures, but also….just so HAPPY. And I am. I am happy.

I love my brave friends who weathered me-on-steroids, and also Gordon. And also you, Best Beloveds, who have stayed around though my posting through this Bad Month of Fat Bronchial Sorrow has been spotty at best.

Let’s hug it out.

33 comments to The Zoo in Pictures, Part 1: Giraffes. Especially Gordon.

  • Mir

    You are GLOWING in these pictures. Hooray for giraffe love!!

    Glad you’re feeling better, Tulip.

  • That third picture gives me a serious case of the feelgoods. Generic version of the prescription for happiness: One giraffe, applied topically.

  • Let’s hear it for drugs! Oh wait… wrong website. Seriously, glad you’re feeling better. A good frolic with a hooven critter can do wonders for our health! Did you know that miniature horses are not being used in service to the blind? I’m not even making that one up! http://www.guidehorse.com/

  • DebR

    Is a giraffe nose soft or prickly? Gordon’s nose looks velvety, but Eddie looks sort of whiskery. I’m glad you got to play with the giraffes & that you’re feelin’ groovy!

  • Lia

    Animals are amazing!! Glad you’re feeling better and had such a good time.

  • I love this post. What a wonderful gift. I am a zoo-person. I’d like to visit all of the nice ones, all over the world. I feel spiritual in a zoo. My husband finds this a bit odd. Regardless, I love this.

  • Jill W.

    You do look so happy in thses pictures. Glad you are feeling better.

  • Linda J

    Bliss is what I think of when I see you in the pics. Please dear do not let the loin spawn ruin your bliss or we may have to petition to allow you a backyard giraffe for therapy reasons:)

    (((YOU ARE AWESOME))) roids or not we still love you and if it helps you look wonderful in the pics!

  • Can’t believe I’ve never thought of kissing a giraffe as a viable answer to the puffy/ugly/best not to speak to anyone seasons of life! It’s never occurred to me, not even once!
    Thank you for fixing this for me! And for being so honest.

    Hugging it out from here 🙂

  • Jill Kuraitis

    This little photo essay made my day. I am going to print out the photos and make a bulletin-board thingie out of them because they make me so happy. Thanks, Ms. Jackson, for sharing giraffe love and the profound experience of feeling awful to feeling happy. You are, of course, my favorite writer ever.

    Our local zoo giraffes are called Elliot and Julius; I may give them a try. But steroids – never again. I nearly went on a violent crime spree!

  • Carrie (in MN)

    This post made me happy seeing you so happy. I’m so glad you’re feeling better! I know that sensation of applying the balm of a dog’s unconditional love or a snuggly kid’s love to my agitated psyche like aloe on a burn. I’ve never tried snuggly giraffe, but that sounds awesome.

  • “a LAP giraffe” That. IS. EPIC. (and maybe Meta, but I’m not real sure what that means) Thank you!

  • Kathy

    I agree with Tenessa. The LAP GIRAFFE made me snort, guffaw and teehee! So glad you are feeling better.

  • Judy in California

    Excellent! Brava! And I’m sure that I am only one among the ZILLIONS of us who are eagerly awaiting the new audio book! 😀

  • The only part of this post that gave me trouble was when you had bamboo stand in for spaghetti. Pardon my french, but WTF is that about?

    (Glad you’re feeling better. I miss your special brand of blogging.)

  • Jennifer in NC

    Your face says it all. Pure giraffe joy!!!
    So glad that you’re feeling better!

  • Lulu

    That giraffe therapy looks amazing and effective in a lovely, velvety, tactile way. So glad the seas of snot have parted and life in general has improved.

    Amen to the happy!

  • Welcome back, sweet Peach! You were always loved, all the way through your steroid-itis. And still are!

  • Jill Sturgeon

    Glad that you are better and that animal therapy helped your spirit – a great quote to calm:
    “Because it breaks my heart to know that so many amazing women are waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning and abusing themselves for not having gone to art school, or for not having learned to speak French, or for not having organized the neighborhood scavenger hunt. I fear that—if we continue this mad quest for perfection—we will all end up as stressed-out and jumpy as those stray cats who live in Dumpsters behind Chinese restaurants, forever scavenging for scraps of survival while pulling out their own hair in hyper vigilant anxiety.” – Elizabeth Gilbert


  • LOVE giraffes. LOVE photos of you loving giraffes. With bamboo even. LOVE.

  • Maybe if you ask them nicely, and promise to get his favorite foods and a really long sleeping bag, they will let Gordon have a sleepover at your house!

  • Hmm I’m thinking if it works that well I need to find a way to kiss a giraffe 😉

  • erinanne

    Patty is one of the dearest people on the planet. I have only met her a couple of times but you just know that from the momemt you connect with her.

    I’m glad she was able to find a giraffe to help pull you out of your funk. Those are fantastic pictures and I’m thinking that I need to find me a giraffe real soon. 😀

  • Brigitte

    Now, how to smuggle Gordon into your lair?

  • What a beautiful group of women. No wonder Gordon was enamored with you. I would love to get the giraffes’ makeup tips. Talk about perfect smoky eyes, flawlessly lined and lashes to the max.

  • Jen

    Last year, I was on steroids for the better part of 6 months due to the asthma flare-up that wouldn’t die (It later turned out I had a respiratory infection, and needed antibiotics, not steroids. It has almost been long enough that I can laugh about it. Ok, not really.) I came across an email to a coworker/friend from during that time that said, “Please remember that I have been on steroids for a really long time so am pretty much a crazy person, and just disregard anything I say that normal, nice me wouldn’t say.” Fortunately, most of my friends did just that. I’m betting with some giraffe therapy, the whole experience would have been much nicer. So jealous! You look great, so glad to hear you are on the mend.

  • The next best thing to kitten and puppy therapy.

  • Lulu

    and forget the mini-goats, wouldn’t mini-giraffes be the best critters ever??!!
    I know they aren’t domesticated animals, but STILL. Mini-giraffes. Want!

  • I am SO jealous – about Gordon, not about the steroids – you can keep them!

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    Gordon is ever so lovely. Yes, you look happy and the good kind of insane.

  • Giraffe love….pretty much my dream come true. Some folks want to swim with the dolphins (which, indeed, would be pretty cool) but if I could only pick one, it would *HANDS DOWN* be snuggling a giraffe. I need friends like yours Joss.

  • Jena


    I sooooooooo wish these were real! You remember the Epic Win commercials for Direct TV? This site was part of their marketing campaign.