More than just a name, Topper the Uganda giraffe was tops with visitors, too.
  • 1960s
  • 1980s

In 1962, a stately youngster arrived in San Diego from Kenya and quickly became a Zoo favorite. Estimates indicate that the nearly-20-foot-tall fellow was photographed by more than 50 million Zoo visitors!

As Zoo guests followed the winding sidewalk on Horn and Hoof Mesa, they would turn a corner and discover 12 pairs of very long legs. Topper lived in a specially designed habitat with female giraffes Checkers and Freckles. They had all come to San Diego together and got along famously. As such, it wasn’t long before other long legs appeared, those of Topper’s offspring—and there were many.

During his years at the Zoo, Topper sired 21 babies. They—and his grandchildren—helped populate zoos throughout the world, where people could witness the grace, immense size, and interesting habits of the giraffe, as well as learn about the perils giraffes faced—and still face—in the wild.

Images of San Diego Zoo Centennial commemorative pins. ShopZoo: Your one-stop shop for Centennial commemoratives, gear, and more!