Written by Clare Brown, NatSCA Membership Secretary & Curator of Natural Science, Leeds Museums and Galleries, Leeds Discovery Centre.
On display in the basement gallery of Leeds City Museum is a stuffed Giant Panda. We’ve always known and referred to her as “Grandma”, the panda that died only a few days after arriving in London in 1938.
Grandma, named as she was the oldest of the group, and her compatriots Happy, Grumpy, Dopey and Baby (Snow White was released in March that year) were the first live Giant Pandas to arrive in the UK. They had taken a long and complicated journey out of central China. Trapped in the forests above Weizhou, Sichuan, the pandas were initially kept at Chengdu under the care of Elizabeth and Floyd Tangier Smith.
Over several weeks, paperwork was prepared and plans were put in place for moving six pandas across the country during a Japanese invasion. It was then Elizabeth who, leaving a poorly Floyd to catch a plane, navigated her way to the Hong Kong Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Dogs Home, a journey of some 1400km. One panda died en route.Continue reading