Jews permitted a tall drink as giraffe milk is declared kosher

Observant Jews yearning for something a little more exotic than usual to celebrate the festival of Shavuot may be excited to learn that giraffe milk has been pronounced as kosher. Vets treating a giraffe at the Ramat Gan safari park near Tel Aviv took a milk sample which formed curds, as required by religious law, reported the newspaper Yedhiot Ahronot.

Shavuot, or the festival of the first fruits, which begins tomorrow, is traditionally a time for consuming milk products. Milk from a non-kosher animal is widely held not to coagulate or curdle.

It had already been established that giraffe meat was kosher since the giraffe, like a cow, both has a cloven hoof and is a ruminant.

Rabbi Shlomo Mafhoud, who accompanied the researchers from the Volcani Agricultural Institute, said: "The giraffe has all the signs of a ritually pure animal, and the milk that forms curds strengthened that."

However, the new ruling may be more theoretical than practical. Dr Yigal Horowitz, Ramat Gan's chief vet, cautioned against its indiscriminate application. "This does not mean that tomorrow we are going to drink giraffe milk or eat soup made from giraffe necks," he said. "After all, this is an animal in danger of extinction."