Giraffe pagodas

Here is a very strange thing.  Someone evidently plans to introduce a wild giraffe herd to southern Missouri!

Now, I know that sounds strange, because the Ozarks of Taney County clearly have very few similarities to Tanzania’s Serengeti, but today I personally witnessed evidence that the spotted giants will be arriving soon.

As one drives north on Highway 65 from Bear Creek Road to the junction with eastbound Highway 176, there is a L-O-N-G uphill of perhaps a mile.  A guardrail runs along the lower half of this section.  On the east side of the highway, about halfway up the hill (that would be just north of the guardrail), some kind of development has slowly been occurring over the past several months. I drive to Springfield quite frequently and so have often wondered what was going on there.

Sometimes I note a collection of finer pickup trucks pulled off beyond the shoulder.  Earth-moving equipment has carved out something of a “parking lot” from the steep drop-off there.  I have seen more than one “cherry picker,” in that area, and a very steep dirt road down from the shoulder has recently been constructed.  I have wondered if the developers have had economic challenges, as for a few days there will be a flurry of activity along that hillside, and then for weeks at a time, nothing new happens.

Well, let me tell you that something significant must have happened yesterday!  When I drove by Wednesday (2/17/10) on my way to church, I noticed nothing unusual, but when I drove by today (2/19/10), I saw something truly amazing:  a tiny rooftop among the trees!  It was green and peaked.  I believe (but am not sure) that the roof was metal, and it appeared to be mounted atop something akin to a wooden tower.  It reminded me of an  experience we had a couple times on our trip to North Carolina last summer.  If you’ve ever stopped for a picnic at an interstate highway rest area, you know that you generally have the single picnic table (bolted or otherwise affixed to a concrete pad), covered by its own private roof (supported by pillars at each end of the table), just big enough to provide a modicum of shade and rain protection.  That’s exactly what this looked like, but it was some twenty feet up in the air!  Its only possible function would be to provide shelter for a giraffe!

I pondered that mini-roof as I whizzed on by, but managed to forget all about it by the time I got the county line.  (I was listening to a book on CD.)  However, on the way home, I determined to examine that minute and lofty  roof more closely.  In so doing I confess I was so startled that I briefly swerved into the adjacent lane.

There wasn’t just ONE giraffe pagoda looming on that wooded hillside;  at least SIX of them had been thrown up among the trees, all the same size, but of widely varying heights.  I now realize that the powers that be are clearly intending to bring in a whole HERD of giraffes, with the obvious age differences that occur in most families.

I am thinking that perhaps each individual animal will be tethered to the support posts of his personalized roof, so as to prevent his running across the highway.  But then, might this be considered animal abuse?

I’m leaving now to go take pictures for documentation, and then maybe I should put in a call to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

(correction 2/20/10) When Jessica, Andrew, and I went back to take pictures, we noted that the roofs are actually blue, not green, and there are seven of them.

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