Daisy was over 16 feet tall when I met her. The tallest animal I have ever stood next to. I did not even come near the bottom of her belly. I would look from the ground at her huge hooves and huge knees. Her legs just kept going. They seemed so big until I finished looking up to realize that in perspective they were actually rather delicate. She was a gentle giant.
She had been raised by Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville at their stone manor house in Karen, Kenya, near Nairobi. The house had become known as Giraffe Manor. The Leslie-Melville's were so enamored of Daisy who was an endangered Rothschild Giraffe, that after their success in bottle feeding and rearing her, they had gone on to establish a breeding herd of Rothschild giraffes on the grounds of their estate. They had also established a wildlife trust to fund the care and breeding of the giraffes and a giraffe education center to educate school children about the giraffes and the other native wildlife.
Daisy and the other giraffes at the manor were well treated. The Leslie-Melvilles had been told a long time ago that the trick to raising wild animals was above all else kindness and love. It was easy to see that all the animals around Giraffe Manor were adored and treated with kindness.
I got to meet Daisy in 1987 when on an elephant research team in Kenya. We were camped on land belong to the Leslie-Melvilles while getting organized to go to Tsavo to begin our research. One day while I was up visiting at the manor, Daisy came and stuck her head in the front door to say “hi”.I guess she did this quite often, following members of the household around from room to room sticking her head in various doors and windows from the outside like some child peering in the windows of a doll house.
Daisy and the other Rothschild giraffes were free. They could have joined the herds of wild giraffes that wandered near the ground of the manor but mostly they chose not to. Instead they mostly chose to stay around where they were fed, protected and most of all loved.