Preparations for Gerald the Giraffe’s 100th birthday are underway at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM). One of RAMM’s most iconic specimens, Gerald has been delighting generations of visitors since his arrival at the museum in December 1919.
On Saturday 14 December a family-orientated party is planned to mark the occasion. Activities will include face painting, party games, an animal-themed disco and giraffe Christmas decoration making. Guests are encouraged to turn up in animal fancy dress for the celebrations.
Ahead of the big day, Gerald has been treated to a special birthday clean from RAMM’s in-house conservation and technical teams, so is sure to be looking spick and span as he hits the big 100.
Gerald is a Masai or Kilimanjaro giraffe. He is one of RAMM's most iconic specimens and would have been an outstanding animal when alive. His sad end came when he encountered big game hunter Charles Victor Alexander Peel at Moshi, Tanzania, close to snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro in what were then German Territories. His skin was shipped from Mombasa to London where it was mounted by the famous taxidermy firm, Rowland Ward Ltd.
Gerald was previously known as George, as an affectionate tribute to King George V. However, he was renamed Gerald by a former museum director who was not so fond of the Royal Family. Gerald is one of the few specimens that remained at RAMM during the redevelopment, spending many months in a crate, before being moved out of the window on Upper Paul Street and then being craned into the museum through the roof from Northernhay Gardens. He now takes pride of place in the redeveloped Case Histories gallery, where he will welcome visitors to the museum for many generations to come.
Gerald was previously identified as Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi but a DNA study published in September 2016 has established that giraffes now belong to four distinct species rather than one with many subspecies. Gerald’s new scientific name is Giraffa tippelskirchi. He is 4.94m tall.