Object of the week- Tibetan yak

Leeds, Leeds Star

Although it’s now safely back in its case at Leeds City Museum, this huge Tibetan yak has had quite a month.

The gigantic stuffed mammal is the biggest object in the museum’s collection, measuring almost three metres long.

But when curators recently discovered moth larvae in the 160-year-old animal’s case, they didn’t let the size of the task put them off and acted quickly to preserve the exhibit’s delicate fur.

The yak was carefully manoeuvred out of the museum on Millennium Square and transported by van to the Leeds Discovery Centre.

There, expert conservators placed the creature in deep freeze before the moths and eggs were painstakingly removed.

It was then taken back to the city museum last week and placed  in its case where it is now on display once again in the Life on Earth gallery.

The yak first arrived in Leeds from Tibet in 1862 and was hailed by the museum at the time as being part of “the rarest and most important acquisitions that could be added to our collection.”

At that time Tibet was remote and inaccessible, a fact which didn’t deter English explorer Colonel Edmund Smyth (1823 -1911), who sent the yak’s skin back to the UK for display.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “There are some fascinating stories behind the animals in our taxidermy collection and they are also a reminder of a time when rare and endangered animals were treated in a very different way than they are today.

“It’s one of the reasons why it is so important that we preserve them, so modern museum goers can not only enjoy them, but learn some important lessons about conservation and the natural world too.”