Many major American cities have zoos. Some, like San Diego’s, are world-renowned. Others are smaller, and certainly just fine, thanks.
But only the Sacramento Zoo features what I call The Sutterville Giraffes.
The Sutterville Giraffes (and wouldn’t that make a fine baseball team name?) do, in fact, live in the Sacramento Zoo. They cut excellent figures, look healthy and seem to enjoy being fed (for a small fee) big chunks of lettuce from a platform.
But The Sutterville Giraffes have a dirty little giraffe secret: They are visible from the sidewalk just off Sutterville Road in Land Park. In fact, you can ride your bike right up to them, or enjoy a brief giraffe break after you pick up your kiwi fruit at Sprouts. Or you can enjoy a nice large nonfat decaf latte from La Bou as you commune with them.
You can see them from the gas station across Sutterville. Pump No. 1 affords the best view.
I have stopped a few times to converse with The Sutterville Giraffes, which are about 10 feet from passing Priuses and Ford F-150 pickups that are otherwise concerned with non-giraffe matters. But if you want to, you can pull over a few car lengths away, park and walk right up to have a giraffe séance. What other city in the world offers instant giraffe access?
I can assure you that you can’t just pull up and have a Giraffe Moment at the San Diego Zoo. That’ll be $32.50, please. Oh, and that cotton candy will run you, too.
Free giraffe access information isn’t something I spread lightly. I think of it as a small Sacramento treat. Giraffes are uniquely cheering, and, some evenings, when I’ve had a hard day drawing Jerry Brown’s eyebrows, a giraffe encounter is better than any cocktail – and way less fattening.
You can’t touch the giraffes, of course. They are safely set back a bit from the sidewalk. But sometimes I think I can smell giraffe breath. I hope it’s their breath.
They will gaze at me with their large giraffe eyes and communicate telepathically with me.
I think they’re trying to tell me they want a latte from La Bou, or perhaps a larger portion of organically grown Sprouts lettuce.
No matter. The Sutterville Giraffes and their secrets are safe with me. I don’t rat out my giraffes.