Paris: Imprimerie veuve Berger-Levrault, 1845. First Edition. Large 4to (306 x 231 mm). 2 ff., 124 pp. With 17 plates lithographed by Delor after drawings by Joly. Bound in modern blue percaline cloth by Lobstein-Laurenchet, red morocco spine label gilt, original front cover wrapper preserved. Separate printing of the "Mémoires de la société du muséum d'histoire naturelle de Strasbourg." Some foxing but an excellent copy. Item #3061
THE FIRST ANATOMICAL STUDY ON THE GIRAFFE.
PRESENTATION COPY FROM THE AUTHOR TO THE TAXIDERMIST WHO UNDERTOOK THE ACTUAL 20-DAY DISSECTION.
This Abyssinian female giraffe, named "Twiga" (the Swahili word for giraffe), was transported alive to Toulouse in 1843 at the age of approximately 3 years. She died on January 4, 1844, either from the harshness of the European climate or (as some said) nostalgia for her homeland. In any event, after she was dissected and studied by researchers she was cooked and eaten by multiple Toulousian families at the Feast of Epiphany (!)
The circumstances of the anatomical examination of Twiga are remarkable. Her body was presented to the mayor of Toulouse, who made it possible to study her, as the giraffe was still largely unknown in Europe at that time. Although Twiga was not the first giraffe to have been dissected (as was reported by some contemporary newspapers), no extensive anatomical study had ever been conducted until then. Nicolas Joly, professor of zoology at the Faculty of Sciences, and Achille Lavocat, professor of anatomy at the Royal Veterinary School, spent 20 days examining the anatomy of the animal, during which time they made extremely detailed drawings. The 17 lithographs contained in the present volume represent the first such studies ever published.
The dissection itsef was entrusted to one of the most famous Toulouse taxidermists of the mid-19th century: H. Traverse. Keeping the entire skeleton intact, and preserving its unique hide, was an extremely difficult feat considering the giant size of this extraordinary mammal.
Twiga is still the star of the Natural History Museum of Toulouse today; indeed, she is one of the oldest stuffed animals preserved therein, arriving at the time of the museum's opening (1865). The significance of restuffing of her body was such that it became the subject of a crowdfunding campaign by the Museum, which began in 2015 (the occasion of its 150th anniversary). The entire process consumed 130 hours; it was undertaken entirely in front of the public, finishing in May of 2016. Concerning Twiga, the Museum's website states: "Rarely has a museum's history been as closely bound to that of an animal as Toulouse's Natural History Museum has been bound to giraffes."
The present volume contains a 30-page critical and historical bibliography of writings about the giraffe (ancient and "modern") which if not the first of its kind, it is surely the most exhaustive one compiled hitherto; the zoology of the giraffe; anatomy of the giraffe; paleontology of the giraffe; followed by 17 lithograph plates, including one of the giraffe "Zaida" and her one year-old offspring, and ancient depictions of the giraffe (from the Egyptian to the Medieval).
PRESENTATION INSCRIPTION inscription on the title-page: "To Mr. Traverse, preparer of natural history animals at the Faculty of Science. Affectionate remembrances of the author, N. Joly." [Translation of: "A Monsieur Traverse, préparateur d'animaux d'histoire naturelle à la faculté des sciences. Souvenir affectueux de l'auteur, N. Joly"].
TAMU MSL has Joly's 31-page cursory announcement from the previous year: "Notice sur l'histoire, les moeurs et l'organisation de la girafe" (Toulouse, 1844) which contains 2 small plates (21 cm).
Not in Nissen, ZBI.