Podcast #1: The First Giraffe – featuring Alexandra Loske

Art historian and curator Alexandra Loske is researching her thesis and curating the upcoming Regency Colour exhibition. But she also uncovered the story that I’ve found perhaps most exciting so far.

If you know anything about my music, you may know I’ve had an obsession with giraffes for years – used them in songs, written about them and run photo streams of them. Meanwhile Alexandra, tasked with looking through a collection of old satirical cartoons, discovered several images of George IV including a giraffe, as if it was one of his toys. She started to research this and uncovered the first ever known giraffe in Britain, which was given to King George as a diplomatic gift by the Pasha of Egypt (the same fella who gave Britain the gift of Cleopatra’s Needle).

'Twould puzzle a conjuror. Print showing George IV and mistress receiving a petition from John Bull. A giraffe wearing a crown can be seen on the left of the image. 1827. (FA209086)
‘Twould puzzle a conjuror. Print, 1827.

I couldn’t pass it up. I interviewed Alexandra in the recently closed History Centre, to get her to tell this incredible story. It’s a doozy… for me, it felt like the best episode of In Our Time ever, although I do a horrible impression of Melvyn Bragg. What a way to kick off the podcasts.

Here’s a link to the audio podcast via Soundcloud. There will be more – and in the next few days I aim to publish podcasts to iTunes, which will enable you to subscribe – but I’m not quite there yet technically.

Chris T-T, Blogger in Residence

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