Shandor Larenty, 17, who has raised baby giraffe Mara on his family’s farm since she was born, and is now training the three-month-old to be ridden by humans.
Shandor’s English great-uncle Terry was a performer in the 1950s Chipperfield’s circus, and the only person known at the time to have the ability to ride a giraffe.
Now Mara – who is nearly 2m tall – is taking “baby steps” as she learns the ropes at the Lion Park near Joburg.
Shandor believes the exercise will keep his pet fit and healthy into old age.
He also has an adult pet giraffe called Purdy, who is nearly 6m tall and, like Mara, was abandoned as a child.
“Mara and Purdy are like best friends to me,” said Shandor. “When I get home, Purdy comes running up to me to say hello. She knows her name and will come to me when she is called.”
According to Shandor, the temperament of a pet giraffe is very gentle and they are great companions. “We look after them carefully. As an adult, Purdy is happy to eat from trees most of the time. But Mara is still a baby, and eats a dozen egg yolks a day as well as 12 litres of milk,” he said.
The teenager is now learning to ride a giraffe in what could be the first time anyone has attempted the feat in decades.
“It’s an incredible sensation to be on the back of a giraffe,” said Shandor. “For Mara this is excellent stimulation and will keep her fit and healthy into her adult life. But it’s very much about baby steps at the moment as she is still so young,” Shandor said.
The teenager said he only ever approaches Mara to sit on her back when she “let’s me know that she is comfortable with it”.
“And I just sit on her at the moment – she doesn’t travel anywhere with me on her back yet. Not only am I keeping Mara happy, but I’m also bringing a rarely seen family tradition back to life.”
This petition closed almost 3 years ago
Let Mara be a normal Giraffe, not being ridden, fed or touched by humans!!
Stop exploiting wild animals!!!