Edinburgh Zoo Giraffe About Town auction raises £246,000 for wildlife conservation

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) raised a staggering £246,000 for wildlife conservation this week after auctioning off a stunning collection of giraffe sculptures that decorated the city streets during the summer.
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The auction, which took place at the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street on Wednesday evening (October 5), saw people bid live at the venue and online to be in with the chance of owning one of the 37 eight-foot-tall majestic mammals up for grabs.

The artworks for sale were previously available to see throughout the capital as part of The Giraffe About Town Project, that saw giraffe sculptures emerge across the capital streets and in shop windows between June and August.

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Speaking to the Evening News, RZSS CEO David Field said: “I’m still on cloud nine, it was just incredible. The Giraffe About Town sculpture trail in itself was so immensely popular and successful in bringing such colour and vibrancy to the streets of Edinburgh - to then culminate in the zenith of this incredible auction was just superb.

35 stunning eight-foot-tall sculptures, one bejewelled four-foot sculpture and one mystery lot were sold to raise vital funds for the wildlife conservation. Photo: RZSS35 stunning eight-foot-tall sculptures, one bejewelled four-foot sculpture and one mystery lot were sold to raise vital funds for the wildlife conservation. Photo: RZSS
35 stunning eight-foot-tall sculptures, one bejewelled four-foot sculpture and one mystery lot were sold to raise vital funds for the wildlife conservation. Photo: RZSS

“The generosity, the love for Edinburgh Zoo, the love for giraffes, the love for the artists – it was tremendous. The people there definitely wanted to show how they can protect, value and love nature.”

Working with arts organisation, Wild In Art, the project saw artists and communities from across Scotland and the UK collaborate to decorate giraffe sculptures to raise vital funds for the RZSS.

The summer art trail also had its very own app to help residents and tourists discover all the sculptures around the city, and saw people log over 146,000 giraffes and walk over 13,000 miles.

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Chief executive of the RZSS, David Field expressed his gratitude to all the contributing partners and sponsors involved with the project, adding that the artists involved had created something “truly, truly wonderful.”

£246,000 was raised at last night's auction. Photo: RZSS£246,000 was raised at last night's auction. Photo: RZSS
£246,000 was raised at last night's auction. Photo: RZSS

Describing the unique art trail Mr Field added: “They brought colour, they brought vibrancy, they brought excitement to the streets of our wonderful city” adding that the project saw capital residents and tourists venture “into parts of Edinburgh they had never been before and the feedback was tremendous.”

Kicking off proceedings was the spectacular sculpture titled Wildlife Warrior. Designed by Dundee-based artist, Rio Moore, the striking giraffe decorated in a beautiful kilt was lead to the stage by a piper, before the remarkable artwork that previously stood tall inside Waverley station sold for a cool £5,500.

Throughout the evening, TV personality and renowned auctioneer Charles Hanson entertained the crowd with bidding wars and told the crowd some quirky stories behind the design of the giraffes and their artists.

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When the sculpture Endangered Scotland was brought to the stage, it managed to fetch a whopping £14,000 for wildlife conservation.

Designed by Edinburgh-based artist Adriana de Matos, her sculpture had stood proudly at St Andrew Square over the summer. It depicts a collection of Scotland’s most beloved and recognisable animals – many of which are at risk, or already at the brink of extinction.

Ten stunning sculptures managed to generate £10,000 or more with other notable bids including The Streets of Edinburgh (£10,500), The Earth is What We All Have In Common (£10,500), Gerald (£10,200) and Daz The Dazzling Giraffe (£10,000).

Ben Supple, director of engagement and business development at RZSS, said: “We are absolutely delighted and incredibly grateful for the outstanding support our charity received from bidders at the Giraffe About Town auction.

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“The trail has been a wonderful way to encourage more people to explore our beautiful city after lockdown and celebrate the capital’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.

“Raising £246,000 is a fantastic achievement that will help support our charity’s vital wildlife conservation work here in Scotland and around the world, from protecting giraffes and chimpanzees in Uganda to restoring wildcats and pine hoverflies in the Highlands.”

Mr Supple added: “Giraffe About Town would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of so many individuals, organisations, schools and community groups. We cannot wait to see the herd in their new homes.”

If you would like to own your very own giraffe sculpture but were unable to bid on Wednesday – do not fret. You can still visit the Edinburgh Zoo shop either in store or online where you can buy a miniature ‘paint-your-own’ giraffe sculpture.

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