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Williams column: Giraffes were along for the ride

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
Sometimes when traveling down the interstate, one sees many varying shapes, sizes and types of loads of things being hauled. Most often seen are the truck-transported units of containerized freight, which might have been seen sometime before, being hauled on flat cars as they passed by at a railroad crossing.
Back in 1978, I sang “Born Free” on the first North Carolina Zoo Telethon, which was held to get the zoo kicked-off and running.
“Born Free” was about a lion cub; and my friends watching at home told me that while I was singing, a video of a tiger and a rabbit were shown on the screen behind me. The images of the two creatures were separate, and occupied different areas of the background, being on separate pieces of film, since unfortunately, so far, the lion has yet to lie down with the lamb (or for that matter, the tiger with the rabbit), but we all have sincere faith that such a day will eventually come.
About that time, many non-native species were being transported to the North Carolina Zoo, two members of one species of which my family and I saw while heading north on I-85 after visiting my mother in Salisbury. Just before passing beneath a highway overpass, we looked out of the passenger side of the front windshield to our immediate right and saw what appeared to be the lower sections of the necks of two giraffes being hauled in an open trailer behind a truck. When our amazed eyes followed the necks upward, as would be expected, there were giraffe heads attached to those necks at their summits.
The giraffes seemed to be enjoying the ride. Their faces looked so calm and peaceful; and their eyes, which gazed passively along the highway, had a look which seemed to say, “The dry season must really be harsh this year, for this section of the Serengeti seems to have hardened into stone.”
This was a unique variation on the theme of the other sorts of animals which we sometimes see transported on the road. Large dogs always appear to enjoy hanging their heads out of an open automobile window, and their tongues out of their mouths, appearing to lap up that automobile-made breeze, while some small dogs always have the appearance of being poised to leap from their master’s shoulder onto the highway, but seem to have the restraint and the good sense not to do so.
Sometimes on the highway, I have gotten behind other containers in which cows, horses and hogs were being hauled. I always feel that the cows are being taken to a dairy, and that the horses, after having ridden a conveyance on the highway, are being taken to someplace where they, in turn, will be ridden and enjoyed. When I see the transported hogs, my thoughts concerning them are much more melancholy, feeling that their travels (as well as their travails) in this life, are most likely nearing an end.
After a while, some other traffic got in front of us, effecting our slowing, so we watched the giraffes disappear into the distance. I wondered if both sexes of giraffe were present in that trailer, like some modern version of Noah gathering the animals for the Ark, but in this case, the North Carolina Zoological Park would be the eventual “Ark” upon which these animals would ride, hopefully and happily living out the rest of their lives there.
After the giraffes were out of view, I tried to picture the remainder of their journey on the interstate, extending onto exit ramps, then into suburban, and eventually, rural settings before arriving at their destination in Asheboro.
In reflecting upon that day, I was glad that the giraffes’ trip was on I-85, where the massive overpasses of the interstate reach an imposing height. If we had encountered them being transported by rail in a similarly open-top container, I would have genuinely feared for their lives. My imagination would have then, had to have envisioned the giraffes’ possible deadly encounter with something, somewhere along their route, similar in nature to the Shober Bridge.

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