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The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (2018)

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A profile of giraffe researcher Anne Dagg who, in 1956, became one of the first people to ever observe and report on animal behaviour.


Alison Reid


Alison Reid
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anne Innis Dagg Anne Innis Dagg ... Herself
Tatiana Maslany ... Young Anne (voice)
Victor Garber ... Alex Matthew (voice)
Lindsay Leese ... Anne's Mother (voice)
David Chinchilla ... Ian Dagg (voice)
John Doherty John Doherty ... Himself
Lisa Clifton-Bumpass Lisa Clifton-Bumpass ... Herself
Amy Phelps Amy Phelps ... Herself
Sandy Middleton Sandy Middleton ... Himself
Mary Dagg Mary Dagg ... Herself
Francois Deacon Francois Deacon ... Himself
Fred Bercovitch Fred Bercovitch ... Himself
Jacob Leaidura Jacob Leaidura ... Himself
Jason Pootolal Jason Pootolal ... Himself
Andy Tutchings Andy Tutchings ... Himself


In1956, four years before Jane Goodall ventured into the world of chimpanzees and seven years before Dian Fossey left to work with mountain gorillas, in fact, before anyone, man or woman had made such a trip, 23-year old Canadian biologist, Anne Innis Dagg, made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to become the first person in the world to study animal behavior in the wild on that continent. When she returned home a year later armed with ground-breaking research, the insurmountable barriers she faced as a female scientist proved much harder to overcome. In 1972, having published 20 research papers as an assistant professor of zoology at University of Guelph, the Dean of the university, denied her tenure. She couldn't apply to the University of Waterloo because the Dean there told Anne that he would never give tenure to a married woman. This was the catalyst that transformed Anne into a feminist activist. For three decades, Anne Innis Dagg was absent from the giraffe world ...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Story of Anne Innis Dagg




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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

4 October 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes See more »

Filming Locations:

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,810, 6 October 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR (Digital 5.1)



Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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Did You Know?


Anne recently visited the Afircan Lion Safari to see the first captive born giraffe in captivity. See more »

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User Reviews

Wonderful! Just wonderful.
21 April 2019 | by gcsmanSee all my reviews

Among the big African animals, giraffes were always my favorite. Hugely tall, beautiful coats, practically the definition of deliberate grace in their movement. And like animals all over the world, we humans are gradually driving them into extinction by the simple method of taking over their natural environment. No species can survive without its living space.

So that's one message this well-done documentary carries. It's familiar enough, but it's no less true and no less a tragedy. The other big theme is the story of the title character, Canadian naturalist Anne Innis Dagg. As a graduate student she went to South Africa to study these magnificent creatures in the wild in the early 1950's, and wrote what was then the definitive book on giraffe behavior and ecology. Shockingly, it remained the definitive book for literally decades after. It's a surprise to realize that Anne, a determined and resourceful young woman, went to do this on her own years BEFORE other more famous naturalists like Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey. The film shows a good deal of original camera footage from her first major visit there (along with some well done re-enactments to fill in necessary bits of the storyline), and splices those sections in with filming from the present consisting of interviews with Anne Dagg, her daughter Mary, some colleagues both new and old, and Anne's return to South Africa to the same place where she worked 60 years ago.

After her research work in Africa, Anne Innis (as she was then) married physicist Ian Dagg and took a faculty position at the University of Guelph while her husband was at the nearby University of Waterloo. They started a family. But Anne's professional career came to a screeching, grinding, permanent halt when she was denied tenure for reasons that half a century later can be seen as yet another case of papered-over misogyny. Appeals to the Ontario Human Rights Commission met the same fate. Her brief and promising career was over. To make things worse, husband Ian died just at retirement age. In recent years, she has experienced something of a professional resurrection by the international community of giraffe biologists -- a relatively small but engagingly nice bunch of people who we get to meet. A few of them actively sought out this rather mysterious woman who literally wrote the book in their discipline and then faded away.

My wife and I saw this at one of our local art cinemas, who ran a special series of showings of the film this month. Anne Dagg herself was there to do Q&A afterward with the audience (which by the way was full and enthusiastic). She's a gracious and matter-of-fact lady. Yes it's a different era now, things are genuinely better for women researchers, but as she would agree, the worst of it is that the numbers of giraffes are still going down. There are too many of us, and we aren't doing enough to save our fellow creatures on Earth.

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