I get a huge sense of satisfaction to see the result of my work. And I am amazed.
You used to do research on the psychology of animals. What was your inspiration there?
There are certain animals for whom there is a certain kind of insight, so, for me, it was looking at the anatomy of the brain and seeing which animals are the most like the people. I wanted to take them to the extreme, to see how far we can go; just the things you can’t see in nature.
How did you come up with the name, “Giraffe?” You use it almost as a badge, as in an achievement award.
I guess it was an extension of “Giraffe,” and I thought “Giraffe is that animal that is closest to you.” I’ve always been a giraffe person, I’ve just always considered the giraffe an animal of the wild.
How long did the story take to get off the ground?
I’ve written about this before, to be honest. It was going to be in “The New Yorker” and “The Independent,” but then there was the American public and an English newspaper wanted to run it because it was a well-known thing, so we changed the title and the name. But I didn’t think it was really appropriate for a magazine about animals. I think it had to do with The New Yorker’s decision to stop being a little bit different; not much has changed, except that the animals have gotten smaller, the animal magazines have gotten smaller. It was never a goal to make a magazine which was giraffe, giraffe, giraffe, giraffe. My goal was the ultimate goal, or I’d say, my goal. That’s really why it took so long, to be truthful.
Which animals are you drawn to?
I go to zoos a lot. In “A Life in the Rain,” when I came up with some words, “Zoos” didn’t really resonate with me. “The National Zoo” was one I didn’t necessarily associate with the word “zoo,” but it did connect with me. Zoos have always been beautiful, and I love them.
How did you go out and find them?
The animal world was like a kind of wild country. There were wild animals and then there were zoos, and zoos have evolved from the wild places to the cities. They are where we make money
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