Anne Innis Dagg to receive honorary Doctor of Science

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Anne DaggUniversity of Waterloo alumnus Anne Innis Dagg (PhD ’67) will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo at the Fall 2019 Convocation.

Anne is pioneer in zoology and animal behaviour. She fearlessly pursued her childhood passion for giraffes when – at age 23 – she went to Africa. She was on her own with no funding, no team, a beat-up truck, and a local farmer willing to help a young, Canadian woman undertake observational study of giraffes in the wild. This type of study was ground-breaking; it was the first of its kind for any animal in Africa, and preceded similar efforts by Jane Goodall (chimps) and Diane Fossey (gorillas) by years.

Anne published her observations of giraffes in the journal Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. “The Behaviour of the Giraffe, Giraffa Camelopardalis, in the Eastern Transvaal” (1958) was the first scientific article about an African mammal ever published. In 1976, Anne co-authored Giraffe: Biology, Behaviour and Conservation. The book is now in its third edition. Zoologists around the world still consider it to be the seminal book on giraffes, and call Anne Innis Dagg the “queen of giraffes.”

Anne’s body of work examines animals and their behaviour, scientific discourse, and feminist issues in science. Her studies are wide-ranging and enlightening. They shed light on maturity and friendship in social species like chimps and lemurs; examine animal locomotion of giraffes, camels, and okapi; explore wildlife conservation, ecology and management in Canada and Europe; and critique gender bias, genetic, and evolutionary thought in behavioural science.

Anne has authored more than 20 books covering topics as diverse as zoology, biography, adventure travel (her own!), evolution, feminist theory, and a newly published children’s non-fiction book about – you guessed it – giraffes. Anne is featured in Wild Journey: The Anne Innis Story (2011), a CBC radio documentary, and the 2018 film titled The Woman Who Loves Giraffes. The film shows Anne back in Africa after 57 years, and highlights the worldwide recognition Professor Dagg receives as a vitally important contributor to zoological research and giraffe studies.

Anne taught courses in mammology, wildlife management, and biology with the Department of Zoology at the University of Guelph from 1968 to 1972. She worked in Waterloo’s Independent Studies program as a professor, academic advisor, and as the program’s academic director from 1986 to 1989.

Giraffe underneath tree in wildAnne has received widespread recognition for her contributions to science and zoology. She is the recipient of the Batke Human Rights Award from K-W Status of Women (1964); has been recognized as a pioneering Canadian woman scientist by the Canadian Museum of Nature (1975 and 2018); received the Lane Anderson Awards for excellence in Canadian science writing (2017); received the Lifetime Achievement Award (now called the Dr. Anne Innis Dagg Excellence in Giraffe Science Award) at the International Giraffid conference in 2016; and is an Honorary Member of the Canadian Society of Zoologists (2019).

Scientist. Biologist. Zoologist. Researcher. Teacher. Mentor. Writer. Publisher. Feminist. Adventurer. Pioneer. Anne Innis Dagg all of these and more. She has shown incredible determination, independence, and passion for her work, and in her continued efforts to study and conserve her beloved giraffes. Anne is an inspiration for generations of zoologists, scientists, and those who care deeply about the survival of genus Giraffa.