Neurotic Giraffe

A photo of a neurotic giraffe in the Beijing Zoo that just paces in circles all day.

Written by ian robert knight

Travel Photographer, Bangkok

I’m not a big fan of zoos. I’ve been to several in my life, and although it seems exciting to see animals that you may not get to see otherwise, I always come away a little depressed. I feel sorry for the captive animals, and wonder how horrible their existence must be. But this is a photography blog, and I will keep that part of the story silent, mostly.

This sad animal (well, it is sad) is a resident of the Beijing Zoo in China. The zoo is over a century old, and contains more than 14,000 animals. It’s a fairly large park, and takes a good part of the day to get through it all. Of course, the main attraction there are the Pandas, just as they seem to be in most zoos around the world. I like Pandas (who doesn’t?), but I felt sorry for them too. I am sure they missed living in the wild. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get any decent photos of the Pandas, as they tended to sit slumped in the corner of their enclosure most of the time I was there.

This giraffe, part of a small collection of giraffes, was out for his daily walk when I was there. But as I observed him, he was walking in circles. His enclosure wasn’t particularly large, so there was not a lot of room to wander. He was mostly pacing the pen. Around and around. But in a sense, he still seemed a bit regal. He held his head up high, and seemed to be prancing as much as pacing. In his own way, he held on to whatever dignity he still had, and went about his walk the best he could.

What makes this photo work?

What I particularly like about this photo, is how the wall behind him is painted in a similar pattern to that of the giraffe. Granted, the colours are not quite the same, but the pattern speaks giraffe. As I watched him pace/prance around the enclosure, I waited for him to walk in front of the large wall. He held his head high, and seemed to be posing for me. In reality, he was bouncing his head up and down. But the ‘down’ images didn’t appeal as much as the ‘up’ ones.

This photo was ‘enhanced’ with some contrast and colour adjustments, but otherwise is as-is.

Technical: 1/400 sec @f5.6, ISO 400, Nikon D700 with Nikkor 70-210 at 210mm, taken at 3:56 pm

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