THERE are, all told, much easier things to manhandle from one museum to another than an awkward, long-dead giraffe that stood 18 feet tall and weighed more than a ton. Such was the task facing museum staff when they sought to shift him from Kelvingrove Art Galleries and Museum to the Kelvin Hall transport museum one day in November 1989. He was being moved in order to have repairs done and to make room for a new time-trek display.

The staff tried a couple of methods to get Gerald out of the door but what succeeded in the end was the use of lifting-gear and some old-fashioned muscle. Thus did Gerald emerge into the open for the first time in more than 80 years. The Evening Times reported in 1989 that Gerald had roamed the plains of Tanganyika in East Africa until one day in 1907 when he was bagged by a Scots-born big-game hunter named James McNeil, who ordered him to be skinned and carried with the safari through Tanzania, from where he was shipped to Scotland.

Gerald was long a fixture at Kelvingrove. Alasdair Gray, writing in this paper in 2006, recalled attending Saturday-morning art classes there for five years from the age of 11 onwards and being able to sample the place at his leisure. "Big animals," he wrote, "were in a very high gallery behind large glazed arches. An elephant with its young one, a giraffe and a gazelle had a painted background of the African veldt."