16-foot giraffe statue stolen from Shadyside yard

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Lulu Orr collects anything giraffe.

The 54-year-old Shadyside resident has collected "several hundred" giraffe items ranging from coffee mugs to T-shirts. But the biggest piece she owns -- a 16-foot giraffe made for her 29 years ago by her then-new husband -- was stolen Tuesday or Wednesday night from her family's yard.

She and her family hope someone who knows of its whereabouts will return it.

"We're very sad that somebody took it, and we're hoping we get it back," Mrs. Orr said Friday. Her husband, Prentiss Orr, and two of their three children live with her.

All five Orrs have been spreading word of the giraffe's disappearance, but did not initially report the theft to police. That's a decision Mrs. Orr reversed during an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Friday morning about the giraffe, which they brought out of its in-house life to live outside beginning at Christmas.

"My son saw it on Tuesday evening, and then we noticed it was missing on Thursday. It was either taken Tuesday night or Wednesday night," Mrs. Orr said. "I didn't even think of calling the police. I feel there's a lot more serious things police can do rather than look for our giraffe."

But she eventually did call police, who said they would look into the theft and get back to her.

Mrs. Orr, who is the program director for Boardswork, a matching program for nonprofit organizations, knows how tall the giraffe is but not exactly how much it weighs. "It is made of, like, plaster of Paris. My husband made it 29 years ago as a Christmas present," she said.

Along with its height, she said, it's "relatively solid. The core is 2-by-4s, so it's got some weight to it."

The giraffe has sentimental value, too.

Mrs. Orr said her husband's family is one in which "everybody makes something for everybody for Christmas. This was the first present that he did for me. It was the first Christmas we were married, and the first present he made for me. It lived inside the house."

The Orrs have moved four times during their 29 years of marriage. The giraffe moved every time.

"It's a part of our family," Mrs. Orr said. "It sounds silly, but it is."

Mrs. Orr sent emails about her missing giraffe to friends that included a December outdoor photo of it. She also noted that her son, Charlie, had weatherproofed the statue this year so it could be outside.

"I want our giraffe back, and I have no idea why someone would think they could take it!" she wrote.

"We are all very sad around here. The more people that hear about this the better our chance is to get it back."

Whether she gets her tall giraffe back, at least Mrs. Orr and her family still have the rest of her several hundred giraffes.

"I have every kind of giraffe you can manage," she said, crediting various relatives with giving her some of them, while she bought others in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

"I have them in all shapes and sizes and coffee mugs and plates and T-shirts made of metal or fabric. I have a huge variety."

She asks anyone who has information about the missing giraffe to call her family at 412-455-5524.

Pohla Smith: psmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1228.

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