Tag Archives: King Charles X of France in 1826

On a camel, then on two different sailing boats, followed by a 900 mile walk

Here is a little light relief with a piece of history which has nothing to do with my walk along the Derwent River. Blog follower Jo alerted me to the story of Zarafa. Have you heard the story of Zarafa?

In the early 1800s exotic animals from Africa and beyond were still sensational to the inhabitants of Europe so, over time, various animals were transported thousands of miles from their home territory to amaze strangers and for political purposes.

The giraffe Zarafa, when gifted to King Charles X of France in 1826 in 1826, became an international sensation in consequence of the challenges faced in her travels.  Zarafa’s journey started in the country of the Masai when she was loaded onto the back of a camel. On reaching the Nile River, she boarded a sailing vessel and travelled northwards to Alexandria. From here she was moved onto a larger boat, with a hole cut in the deck so her head could lift up and out, and sailed for 32 days across the Mediterranean to France. Finally she led by a man in a long walk from Marseilles to Paris over 41 days, and by all accounts she became healthier and more robust with each step.  Fed with the milk of three accompanying cows, Zarafa was considerably taller at the end of her journey.

You can read more at:

Apparently, Zarafa’s stuffed remains can be viewed in France at the La Rochelle museum. I would be interested to hear comments from any blog follower or other reader who has visited this museum and the remains of this giraffe.

Fashion progressed (or suffered) as a result of Zarafa’s arrival.  Apparently Parisienne woman piled their hair so high they needed to sit on the floor of their carriages, and men wore elongated hats and ties as the new trend of ‘a la girafe’ emerged.