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Don Pedro: the elephant that died twice

22 April 2016 by Emma Martin

Don Pedro (the elephant) standing proud at the centre of the Upper Horseshoe Gallery before 3 May 1941

Don Pedro (the elephant) standing proud at the centre of the Upper Horseshoe Gallery before 3 May 1941

University of Manchester student Lolo is working on our new online exhibition that will be launched 3 May. Here’s his latest blog on some of the objects and specimens that feature in it.

“Many of you may already know that the King of Prussia Jug was one of the Blitz survivors. But not all the stories relating to the museum’s objects and specimens had a happy ending. There were also hundreds if not thousands of casualties. I was very upset when we heard about the sad story of Don Pedro, a male Indian elephant once in the zoology collection. They say cats have nine lives, but poor Don Pedro had just two. Read more…

Black pitch, carved histories research project

7 March 2016 by Joanna Ostapkowicz

old photo of people digging along a high, steep bank of the lake

An early postcard showing the depths attained in digging pitch, and the manual labour involved. Even at these depths, the lake would refill to its original level within a day or two.

In 2015 I blogged from Trinidad and Tobago, where I was working on the AHRC-funded Pitch Lake project.

We are now entering the final phase of the project, and while work continues on various elements – from the last strontium analyses to the documentation of the replica commission – we’re taking this opportunity to launch the project web pages: Black pitch, carved histories: Prehistoric wood sculpture from Trinidad’s Pitch Lake.

The web pages document the aims, techniques and methodologies of the project, the artefacts studied and the wider context, Read more…

The night World Museum nearly died

26 February 2016 by Emma Martin

The upper horseshoe gallery was home to the natural history collections in 1941. In pride of place was Don Pedro, the Indian elephant

The upper horseshoe gallery was home to the natural history collections in 1941. In pride of place was Don Pedro, the Indian elephant.

Over the next few weeks Lolo, a student working at World Museum, will blog about the events of the 3rd May 1941 – the night World Museum nearly died. Here at the museum we are preparing to launch an on-line exhibition on the 3rd May. We will recount what happened that night 75 years ago and Lolo will also be writing blogs that reveal in more depth what happened to some of the museum’s objects. Read more…

Tobago: the final stop

27 August 2015 by Paula

The Tobago field collecting team: (left to right): David, Terri and Darren

The Tobago field collecting team: (left to right): David, Terri and Darren

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas, collection concludes her research journey through Trinidad & Tobago:

Day 9-10: Tobago

Tobago: the final stop in the herbarium/strontium collecting tour. Forestry officer Mr. Darren Henry picked me up early on the first day for a quick visit to the Forestry offices to discuss itinerary and best places to find the specific species we’re after, before venturing out to the ‘wilds’ of the island. Read more…

The central South West: ‘five-fingers’, ‘fat pork’ and tamarind sours

20 August 2015 by Paula

Waterloo temple

Waterloo temple

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas Collection, is on the last leg of her research trip to Trinidad before heading over to Tobago:

Day 7-8: The central South West: ‘five-fingers’, ‘fat pork’ and tamarind sours

Our last area was the central South West, one of the island’s more geologically complex regions, with both Tertiary and Cretaceous sedimentary bedrock.  This was among the oldest geology on the island, and generally, the older the geology, the higher the expected strontium isotope values.  We covered a large region over the course of two days, from Waterloo in the north to Moruga on the south coast, finishing off on the important archaeological site of Banwari Trace, home of ‘Banwari Woman’, thought to date to ca. 5000 BC, which would make her the oldest human skeleton known from the entire Caribbean. Read more…

The source: Pitch Lake and environs

11 August 2015 by Paula

Pitch Lake and a view of the shoreline from the centre of the lake during a downpour

A view of the shoreline from the centre of Pitch Lake before and after a downpour. The two photos were taken within moments of each other.

We continue with Joanna on her journey through Trinidad as she reaches Pitch Lake:

Days 5 & 6: The source: Pitch Lake and environs

Pitch Lake: the reason I’m in Trinidad. Our mission over the next two days is to collect samples both within and around the lake to give us a good strontium signal for this unique region. Of course the other Trinidad/Tobago regions are important too – but this is the core of our study. Read more…

The oilfields of the South East and ‘pitch lake’ roads

7 August 2015 by Paula

The southeast crew

The southeast crew: (left to right): Keisha, Leo, Imran, Jameel.

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas collection, continues her rather bumpy journey through Trinidad, we catch up with her for:

Day 4: The oilfields of the South East and ‘pitch lake’ roads

We were joined by forest officers Mr. Imran Mohammed and Mr. Leo Persad for our tour of the South East forest reserves.  This region holds some of the largest forested areas in Trinidad, including the Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. It also has oil reserves running throughout it, and there are many small oil pumps working away. Read more…

Mountains, Maracas beach and more mangos

4 August 2015 by Paula

A mountainous vantage point between Verdant Vale and Morne La Croix

A mountainous vantage point between Verdant Vale and Morne La Croix

It’s day 3 for Joanna Ostapkowicz on her research trip to Trinidad:

“Day 3: Mountains, Maracas beach and more mangos: the Central North West

The North West is Trinidad’s mountainous region, with steep roads heading out to the coasts. The roads cut through mountain rock, sometimes with only bamboo groves keeping the road from slipping down slope. It is here that we found some of the largest examples of our key species – such as this magnificent Andira sp. (Angelin), perched along the Marienne River. Read more…

Curious dogs, venomous vipers and a truck full of samples

24 July 2015 by Paula

The rugged coast along the road to Matelot.

The rugged coast along the road to Matelot.

Joanna Ostapkowicz, Curator of the Americas, collection continues her journey through Trinidad, here is her latest update:

Day 2: Curious dogs, venomous vipers and a truck full of samples – a hike in North East Trinidad

This is rainy season in Trinidad: not only did we benefit from another day of overcast skies, but the heavens did open for a short time – and there is nothing like a tropical shower to cool you down after a bit of humid forest trekking. Read more…

Cocoa, mango and the generous Trini spirit

20 July 2015 by Paula

Doux-doux - the sweetest of mangos

Doux-doux – the sweetest of mangos – though Trinidad has a huge variety of mangos, and everyone has their own preference, often hotly contested.

This is the second blog in the series from Joanna Ostapkowicz, curator of the Americas collection at World Museum.

“Day 1: Cocoa, mango and the generous Trini spirit: Herbarium collecting in Eastern Trinidad

Overcast days are a blessing when fieldworking in Trinidad – and indeed any part of the Caribbean: the heat and humidity can knock even the locals back. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.