This is not the only infection to strike animals close to our hearts. We used to have three Reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) at Ahanu. A trade was made about a year before my lovely wife, Rose, took over the director’s position. A pack of penguins, six in all, were traded for a young, female reticulated giraffe in hopes of baby giraffes and renewed visitor numbers. The penguins went to Texas. Texas sent us a giraffe, Mimi.

Ahanu had a shorter quarantine protocol for new animals back then. We didn’t even know Mimi had a de-worming resistant parasite – Haemonchus contortus – until she died. Rose was director by then, and she suggested that I report the story on the website, one of my first posts here. So, I was there when the veterinary students at U of I opened her up, cutting through the thin skin of her belly.

Mimi’s neck was too long for the necropsy table, but someone had lifted her horse-like head onto a stool, up off the tiled floor. Her patterned neck was a low rope bridge leading up to her once strong shoulders. No one had closed her eyelids over her big, brown eyes, but she was gone inside. They found the long, white parasites crawling in her intestines.

Twiga and Kenya, our other giraffes, were infected as well. But alas, we could not de-worm a de-worming resistant parasite. When they join Mimi in death, we will dig up their home, an empty grave at least 10 feet down, and rebuild it anew for a new generation. That was the plan. Before.

Now, Twiga and Kenya huddle in their enclosure against the autumn chill. They knew this was coming. But how were we mere humans to know the difference between the restlessness of caged animals and the restlessness of prophets?

Written by Jeffrey Holmes, MFA – September 28, 2024

Jeff, please come back to the house.

Dr. Rose Hanson-Holmes, Director 09/28/24

At least let Matty come back.

Dr. Rose Hanson-Holmes, Director 09/28/24

I won’t let him starve in there with you.

Dr. Rose Hanson-Holmes, Director 09/28/24

It’s okay, Dr. Hanson-Holmes. I want to be here, closer to the animals. We have food from the other deep freeze. Jeff has been telling me stories to pass the time.

Matthew Robins, Summer 2024 Intern 09/29/24

I’ll keep him just as safe as you would. And the animals too. Whatever you might think, or think you know, I can handle it. Matthew and I will be just fine.

Jeffrey Holmes, MFA 09/29/24

By the way, he doesn’t like it when you call him Matty. It’s not his name. He’s a young man. Not a child.

Jeffrey Holmes, MFA 09/29/24

Like you know anything about children.

Dr. Rose Hanson-Holmes, Director 09/29/24

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