Leeds nostalgia: Leeds yak was shot in Tibet in 1862 but guess what conservators just found in its skin...

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One of the biggest objects in Leeds City Museum’s collection, this huge Tibetan yak is still in good shape for 160-years old.

That’s thanks in no small part to diligent conservation undertaken by curators over the past year.

The yak first arrived in Leeds from Tibet in 1862 after it was shot by two army officers who brought its skin back to the UK.

At that time Tibet was remote and inaccessible and the taxidermists who worked on it had never seen a yak before, so it was hailed by the museum as being part of “the rarest and most important acquisitions that could be added to our collection.”

Rebecca Machin, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of natural sciences, said: “The yak is one of the largest and most impressive objects we have on display and such an amazing and historic specimen.

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“We take every care to protect all our exhibits from any damage by moths and other pests. On the rare occasions when something does get through our defences, we have specialist facilities on hand at the Leeds Discovery Centre to ensure the animals can be conserved and put back on display as soon as possible.”

Today the animal can be found in the museum’s spectacular Life on Earth gallery but, at almost three metres long, the giant can take quite a bit of looking after.

For example, when curators recently discovered moth larvae in its case they mounted an operation to carefully remove it from the museum and whisk the enormous specimen away to the Leeds Discovery Centre, where the moths and eggs could be safely removed.

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