Crash: My dad hit a giraffe in West Midlands Safari Park

Words by
Niall Kerry

Illustration by
Debora Szpilman

The year is 1997. I was 6. My parents, my grandad and I drove round West Midlands safari park at a leisurely pace. My dad’s Citroen ZX estate making the perfect safari wagon. We laughed as the monkeys boyishly scampered over the roof, gazed in awe at the lions who kept to themselves. Textbook scenes. This was until we entered the giraffe section. Having visited West Midlands safari park a handful of times I can tell you this is usually a calm enclosure, loads of space for the necked giants to wander.

However, this specific time the giraffes were very present. Sharing the road with the cars. We came to stop as an especially lanky giraffe squares up to us. 

In a moment of insanity (he swears the car was in reverse) my dad lets his foot off the clutch, too quickly, and we jerk forward into the giraffes shin.

The giraffe lets out a bellow as its knee hurtles down onto our bonnet. After an almighty crash and a lot of bad  language our windscreen was filled with giraffe thigh. I’d like to give closure on that giraffe’s well-being but the second it peeled its knee of our ZX we hotfoot it to the exit and drove off into the sunset, sporting a very aerodynamic bonnet dent.

Perhaps more vivid than the action that led to the dent is my memory of standing on our drive with my dad trying to sell the car a few weeks later. I can still hear the potential buyer ask ‘and how did you get the dent?’