I was delighted to find myself followed on Twitter by @TheKingsGiraffe, the first living giraffe to be seen in England, a gift from Muhammad Ali, Pasha of Egypt to George IV in 1827. The Pasha was fond of giraffe diplomacy, also giving a giraffe to Charles X of France and one to Franz I of Austria. The account has been set up in preparation for an exhibition opening this autumn at the Brighton Royal Pavilion, Exotic Creatures.
A little research found that the giraffe is not the only museum animal on Twitter. There is a flourishing subculture of museum mascot accounts. There follows a selection:
- Henry Coles Rat, at the National Archives
- Oisin the Deer, at the Market Hall Museum, Warwick
- Bill Sparks, the Royal Marines Museum snake
- the Leatherback Turtle, St Agnes Museum
- George the Gorilla at Nottingham Natural History Museum
- Svetlana Sturgeon at Hereford Museum
- and, perhaps my favourite, The Horniman Walrus
For the purposes of this list I stuck to British museums but there should be an honourable mention for another museum giraffe, Spotticus at the Dublin Natural History Museum.