IT sounds like a tall story — but these amazing snaps feature a real-life family who kept a giraffe as a pet.
This is friendly Fenne, the pet giraffe who roamed freely through the home of a family of six as they ate, slept and played – and used to come running just like a bounding puppy whenever her name was called.
The adorable animal happily walked around the home of Colin McRae, 59, wife Theony, 52 and their four children on their ranch in South Africa, taking extra care not to slide about on the tiled floor and stooping to get through doorways.
She lived with the family from birth, growing from five to ten feet tall by the time she was two.
But tragic Fenne died suddenly after eating a poisoned leaf when grazing in the wild.
Fenne was just like a member of the family, Theony remembers. ‘Fenne loved company, when she felt like it she would come right indoors to look for us - even though she was ten-feet tall.
‘She loved to play with our dogs and would even follow our horses about - she just loved being sociable.
‘I hope one day we will find another precious gift like Fenne in our lives.’
The family run a game reserve in De Tweede Spruit, South Africa, where guests take part in horse riding safaris.
Four years ago Theony's son, Craig, then 19, was leading a safari when he discovered dehydrated Fenne in the hot South African bush after she was abandoned by her mother.
Seeing her covered in insects and barely able to lift her head, Craig enlisted six people to carry Fenne to his pickup truck.
Adorable: Fenne loved company and enjoyed playing with the four children
After he got Fenne back to safety, Craig and nursed her back to health by feeding her cow's milk mixed with eggs.
‘Even when she was getting too big to really fit Fenne would still come to visit us indoors,’ said Theony.
‘She would duck down and come right in when she felt like it, she had to really get her head down.
‘We had to kick her out the house sometimes because she was rather clumsy inside because hoofs on tile floors do tend to slip. We were very cautious that she wouldn't break her leg.
‘On carpet she was alright, and sometimes she would step right over furniture to get around. But she didn't bump her head on things, she was very careful to bend down under things.’
As she grew older, the family fed Fenne on as many leaves as she could eat, eight litres of milk a day - plus carrots as a special treat.
Feeling at home: Fenne would just come into the house when she felt like company and was looked after by the four McRae children
Living with a giraffe in the home often threw up surprises, Theony recalls. ‘I remember one night a guest ours was having a bath but left her bedroom door unlocked. Fenne was curious so pushed the door open and got right inside to say hello. This lady was so surprised and amazed by this encounter.
‘Living with Fenne was filled with magical moments like this.’
Fenne was so affectionate that sometimes family members and guests had to take extra care, Theony remembers. ‘She was very affectionate, Fenne would come right up to you so you had to be careful,’ she said.
‘Being a young animal she was quite clumsy, you had to be careful of her standing on your foot.
‘She weighed more than a person so you would really feel it if she stood on your foot.'