Meet 'The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,' Canadian scientist who endured years of discrimination
A pioneering Canadian scientist who faced discrimination because of her gender is the subject of a new documentary about her conservation work with giraffes.
In 1956, then 23-year-old Anne Innis Dagg became one of the first foreigners to study animal behaviour in the wild in Africa, when she made a solo journey to learn more about giraffes.
Following her groundbreaking work she returned to Canada, but faced a roadblock when she applied to become a full professor at the University of Guelph.
Anne was forced to leave her research for 30 years because of struggles she faced as a female biologist.
“Well it certainly depressed me,” Dagg told CTV’s Your Morning.
“I was incredibly unhappy, it just seemed so unfair, I had done all this work and it meant nothing.”
Her treatment spurred her on to fight for women’s rights for the next 30 years.
Anne feared the scientific community had forgotten her, despite having written the ‘bible’ on giraffe studies, ‘The giraffe: its biology, behavior and ecology’.
She later discovered, in one of the greatest moments of her life, that scientists had been learning from her in all that time and she was eventually invited to speak at conferences.
A new documentary, “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” follows Dagg and her daughter as she returns to South Africa almost 60 years later.
Dagg’s studies in Africa in the 1950s were recorded on film so the movie’s director, Alison Reid, was able to return to the original locations.
“When Anne was there initially she was writing letters to her mother, she had a very close relationship with her mother, so to bring her daughter back to the very place where it all started for her brought things full circle,” Reid said.
Dagg said giraffes risk extinction if more is not done to protect them.
“The problem is people are killing them and they’re becoming fewer and fewer , maybe 35 per cent of them have been lost in the last 50 years,” Dagg said.
“If we keep on this way there won’t be any more giraffes. Part of what we did with the movie was trying to persuade people to think about giraffes and save them.”