The Woman Who Loves Giraffes | Chicago Reader

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes

One could say that Canadian biologist Anne Innis Dagg is the Jane Goodall of giraffes, except it’s worth noting that, at age 23, she traveled by herself to South Africa to study the long-necked creatures in the mid-50s—a few years before Goodall began her work with primates. Though Innis Dagg was certainly ahead of her time, she’s often been overlooked in terms of public recognition. Now 86, Innis Dagg is the focus of filmmaker Alison Reid’s glowing documentary. Reid traces her subject’s life from age three, when she first encountered curious and majestic giraffes during a visit to the Brookfield Zoo. As an adult Innis Dagg went on to become not only the first woman but the first scientist of any gender to study animal behavior in the wild in Africa. With Reid, Innis Dagg returns to the site of her innovative research, and the accompaniment of vivid color photographs and 16-millimeter footage the scientist herself took in the late 50s render the duality of the experience all the more bewitching. Though the doc touches on the sexism Innis Dagg experienced in academia throughout the ensuing years, it’s most galvanizing in the scenes that show her out in the field doing the work for which she will now, I hope, be more widely remembered.


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