Tall stories from the animal kingdom - David Field

What do you get if you cross a camel with a leopard? That’s right, the new hilltop residents at Edinburgh Zoo – a bachelor herd of giraffes. Or as I should say, Giraffa camelopardalis! Early scientists described these unusual creatures as camel-shaped with leopard colouring and we’ve known them as giraffes ever since.
David Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Chief ExecutiveDavid Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Chief Executive
David Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Chief Executive

Following a wonderful welcome for our real-life giraffes earlier this year, at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) we are going to share these majestic giants with the people of Edinburgh and visitors from around the UK and the world, through a stunning, family- friendly art trail.

In partnership with Wild in Art, our Giraffe About Town trail will feature more than 40 eight-foot-tall giraffe sculptures displayed across Edinburgh next summer to help the city recover after lockdown and raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation.

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Each sculpture will be decorated by local artists and communities – all designed to celebrate Edinburgh’s extraordinary heritage and cultural diversity – and sponsored by local businesses, community groups and education organisations. They will then be displayed in locations across Edinburgh from 1 July to 29 August, highlighting hidden gems and engaging with communities from Edinburgh Airport to Leith.

Giraffe about townGiraffe about town
Giraffe about town

After the immense challenges we have all faced over the last year, Giraffe About Town will support the recovery of our city and our charity by encouraging local people and returning tourists to explore and fall in love with Edinburgh all over again. We hope the trail will connect people with giraffes, nature and threatened species around the world.

Schools will also have an opportunity to get involved with a mini herd of giraffe calves. Standing at just four feet tall, the smaller sculptures will be part of a once-in-a-lifetime discovery and learning programme running alongside the main trail.

Following a fabulous farewell weekend at Edinburgh Zoo where they will be shown together for the first and last time, the giraffe sculptures will be auctioned at a special event to raise funds to support wildlife conservation projects in Scotland and across the globe. This will be a tremendous legacy for the people and communities of Edinburgh.

The pandemic forced the closures of Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park for five months, costing RZSS over £1.5 million. Raising funds to continue our work is incredibly important and we have been touched by the support we have received from animal lovers who are passionate about protecting wildlife.

Giraffe About Town is one way we can say thank you and bring a feelgood factor back to Edinburgh with something truly special. It is also a really exciting opportunity for businesses, organisations, artists, schools and whole communities to get involved.

To celebrate launching this amazing project, Giraffe About Town supporting partner Flock Creative worked with Edinburgh College of Art graduate Carolina Haraki to paint the first sculpture with a bright, colourful design inspired by the colours of the capital’s Victoria Street and blossoming flowers representing rebirth, regrowth and recovery for the city.

‘Flora’ certainly captured the imaginations of the lucky people who spotted her exploring some of our most iconic locations and we cannot wait for the rest of the herd to join her in one of the most exciting events in Scotland next year.

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With the tallest animals in the world set to peer over walls, fences and walkways all around town, you can be sure Edinburgh’s future is looking bright!

Find out more about Giraffe About Town and how you can get involved at edinburghzoo.org.uk/GiraffeAboutTown

David Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland Chief Executive



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