Oliver Lebleu and Cynthia Hahn

Saturday, December 12, at 9:30 a.m. Olivier Lebleu, French writer and novelist (author) and Cynthia Hahn, Professor of French, Lake Forest College (translator for English edition), In the Footsteps of Zarafa, First Giraffe in France

This engaging account traces the remarkable history of France’s first giraffe, a diplomatic gift from Egyptian Pasha Muhammed-Ali to King Charles X in 1826. “Zarafa,” taken by boat from Egypt to Marseilles and walked all the way to Paris, was accompanied by her Arab handlers and a famous French naturalist. She drew vast crowds along her route, sparking a giraffomania that was widely documented in art and literature. Her initial journey and then long and celebrated residence in Paris encapsulates nineteenth-century French socio-political history and highlights the emerging evolutionary theories of the time. Over fifty illustrations from the period illuminate this rare encounter with a unique animal that is now endangered and deserving of our greater attention and understanding.

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