Isibindi Zulu Lodge is a protected home to dearly beloved Roger, a giraffe of 28 years no less. Now most giraffe live to 20, 25 years if they are very lucky, but our dear Roger simply will not let go.
Concerned lodge managers Marnus and Nicole say that they live in a state of perpetual distress, on each morning’s drive expecting to encounter a stiffer-legged-than-usual Roger. But then there he is, at pretty much the exact same spot he stood yesterday, just living another day.
He is too old to even bend down to drink and gets his moisture from chewing the bitter leaves of the Aloe plant, his face twisted in disgust. He is not getting any prettier either, his face dark, grey, lumpy and sunken.
I encounter Roger at the entrance to Isibindi Zulu Lodge late one pink afternoon. “Roger my old boy” I whisper, “It’s time to have a heart to heart. Now please don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s really OK if you feel ready for an eternal rest. Just follow the light dear chap.” Roger glares back at me, unmoved, as if to say “Speak for yourself. I am going nowhere, slowly.”
This is a safe space without predators, where Roger can live out the remainder of his days (or weeks or months or years) in gentlemanly dignity. And every morning we sigh in gratitude that Roger lives on another day, grateful that he has not followed our bad advice to rush about everywhere, even to our demise.