Integration at the Giraffe Enclosure

The spur-winged plovers fluttered their wings, the peacocks whetted their throats and only the tapir refused to be impressed, looking from side to side, sluggishly, like a tired woman, worn, waiting for the bus. But the giraffes did not allow the indifference, the heat and the tapir to dull the excitement - new guests had arrived at the giraffe pen of the Safari in Ramat Gan yesterday morning.

Danisa (4.5 meters tall, in advanced stages of pregnancy), Jumbo, Daniela and Dikla, four giraffes who until recently lived among their own kind, and who on a good day could, perhaps, look over into the South American yard nearby, were joined by something they had never seen before, and probably never believed existed - a small guest (two actually, a male and a female, weighing at most 5 kilos each) from Hanover, Germany. They might be small, but they boast a terrific name, not from this world - dik-dik, gazelle in Hebrew. And thus, four very tall animals stood there in the tremendous heat and looked at the two small animals and did not know what to do in their excitement - their hearts were about to burst.

This is a new trend in safaris, in Ramat Gan and throughout the world - mixing things up. No longer nine subspecies of giraffes, one after the other, or monkeys next to monkeys next to monkeys, because from now on it's integration - everyone together, like in nature. By the way, an earlier effort failed - the lemurs brought into the yard saw the giraffes and ran. But the dik-dik had nowhere to run, and perhaps no reason either. And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the gazelle with the giraffe, and the question stands - is it for the best? To live with your own kind, and not to see much beyond your yard (except for a bit of the South American yard) or to live with anyone who is willing?

And what is better, to be small or large? Quick or stupid? And is this what paradise looks like? Not certain. But the giraffes, for their part, do not ask questions. They are curious, and for a while they even appear to be a little wary - because this little guy might become big. But he, tiny, a miniature antelope, is significantly braver, a veritable lion (with the skin of a dik-dik). Perhaps that is because he knows what most little ones know, that the tall ones - you can only tell their real size when they fall.

Meanwhile, it seems that everyone is enjoying the forced marriage: the caretakers, the public relations people and the visitors. And it turns out there are other marriages that one can peek at - some more forced than others. Because in the Safari, as the summer approaches, there are special events. Indeed, one can wed at the Safari, exchange rings behind the pumas, the turtles or the elephants. And in order to make it clear to everyone how things will be henceforth, one can also do so next to the vultures. And if you are part of the right percentile of society, or really want it, you can also go all out and do things in the open, on a stage. All around African animals will peek, squint, and look at the small creatures, really small creatures, dressed nicely, smelling good, chewing their mushroom quiches or entrecote blackened in wine and honey. Depending on the menu, of course. This too is a form of paradise. Or maybe hell.

Shahar Magen was born in Ramat Gan in 1976. He began his writing career at Maariv, where he produced the "Weekend" supplement, and later moved on to edit the culture section at Ynet and write several episodes of the soap opera "Hashir Shelanu." In 2006 he published his first book, "Schita Schora," which was nominated for the Sapir Prize for Literature. He currently works in documentary filmmaking and is writing a drama series for HOT.