“Okay, I’m on the waitlist!” said my husband matter-of-factly.
I looked up from my computer hesitantly. “Waitlist for what?” I dared to ask.
“A petite laptop giraffe.”
“Oh, good.” (Can you hear my eyes roll?)
For two days, my husband had been jokingly claiming he wanted one (this, as we were about to put a deposit down on a puppy—of the canine variety) in reaction to a television commercial featuring a Russian tycoon who apparently has everything a man could possibly desire—including a miniature giraffe. It’s an odd decision for a symbol of ultimate frivolity, but perhaps it is that very peculiarity that makes the hoax nearly believable.
The Sokoblovsky Farms website (where my husband was able to get on the waitlist for the year 2518) presents an array of photographs, videos, and information that enchants the reader into believing it breeds two-foot-tall “Petite Lap Giraffes.” “It all started when Great Grandfather Nicolas escaped circus with best friend Alex, the giraffe,” the site explains, accompanied by two sepia photographs of Nicolas with his diminutive pet. The delicate creatures, we are told, must be fed a diet of distilled water and bonsai leaves, and require extraordinary care, including weekly bubble baths and douses of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral suites.
While I might have believed some well-spun tale about an eccentric Russian circus-animal breeder, it was those latter details that gave the hoax away. Still, I appreciate the Barnum-esque promotion which had me wondering if such a creature could exist. Elsewhere online, Petite Lap Giraffes have spawned a brief, but interesting debate about the possibility of their existence. Aside from those who chime in only to call near-believers idiotic, the overwhelming reaction is: “I wish it was real.” (See Ian Dennis Miller’s blog for photographic disproof and a slew of such comments.)
But why? Does this reflect a desire for the exotic? A Noah’s Ark impulse to nurture and protect? Or simply a space for the imagination to play? Are we so desperate to believe in something that we will believe anything—if its marketed well? Barnum, at least, would be pleased.