Giraffe About Town – Logistics Guide – Part 3

Giraffe About Town
Official Logistics Guide - Part 3 - Collection

In our latest Giraffe About Town, official logistics guide, we follow the team as they bring the Giraffes home in our most Specialist Moving Project to date!

After 2 months out on the streets of Edinburgh, it was time to bring tall herd back to Giraffic Park (Ocean Terminal), for some touch-ups ahead of the big Farewell Weekend at Edinburgh Zoo! Read on to find out exactly how we did it, what changes we’d make, and how we’re continuing to support The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

Missed our previous guides? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Giraffe About Town Logistics Guide.


1. The Setup - Giraffe About Town

Taking back in exactly what we had put out 2 months ago, meant our job “should” have been even easier than first time round. With one giraffe less to collect (the Zoo were keeping their one in house), we decided to use pretty much same process and setup as last time, but in reverse!

We did the uplift over 2 nights, with 2 teams tackling specific geographical areas within Edinburgh, over 4 different routes. The only changes we did make, were to the order of the first few Giraffe About Town sculptures. With us coming into the city from the West this time, it made sense to adjust the route to pickup those on the way into the city centre. So on the first night Team 1 collected the Giraffe About Town sculpture at South Queensferry first, and Team 2 started with the Giraffe outside the new St. James Quarter

As mentioned previously, we slightly reworked the routes, and used the same digital tablets (1 for each truck) as we used when setting up the giraffes back in June. However, we also made the logistics guide much easier for our crews to access, by sharing a link to the guide on our team’s WhatsApp group. This way anyone with a mobile phone and the link could access the guide, select what truck or route they were a part of, and view the entire route. We also shared our Quartix tracking software with key members of the zoo team. This way we could all keep an eye on the progress of the other trucks and offer assistance where necessary.


2. Collection - Night 1: Giraffe About Town

Each team consisted of 3 trucks. One big truck to carry all the plinths. The second truck to carry all the Giraffe About Town sculptures, and the third truck with porters and the lifting equipment for the plinths. Onboard each truck we had a driver and navigator as a minimum, with 3 onboard the third smaller truck with the lifting equipment e.g: the portable electric lifts or the poles and straps, with a pallet truck in each.

The plan for each giraffe was relatively similar. We’d wait on the Zoo team to unscrew the bolts holding the Giraffes down, and remove the signage from the plinth with a hammer and chisel. This would reveal the fork holes (which were too big! – see part 1) and allow us to lift up the plinth onto our pallet using our specialist electric lift equipment, or lift the plinth using poles and straps onto our wooden pallet. It could then be easily moved around using a pallet truck onto the tail lift of our removal vehicle, before being lifted into the back and safely stowed away.


The first night went much quicker than expected. When we put out the Giraffes back in June, we were still working past midnight. On the first night of collection we were actually finished by 10pm! The main reason for us being so much quicker was we didn’t have to reposition any of the plinths. When we first put out the giraffes and plinths we had to a lot of small adjustments of the plinths to ensure they’d be seen and they adhere to the regulations set by Edinburgh City Council.

Another key factor that helped us on the collection nights was the staff we used. We tried to ensure that those that put the Giraffes out were on the same trucks, so they already knew the route and locations of the giraffes, even if it was in reverse. This key detail would come back to haunt us in night 2.

3. Collection - Night 2: Giraffe About Town

On the first night, each team collected 9 Giraffe About Town Sculptures and plinths, and returned them to Ocean Terminal. That left a total of 23 Giraffes and plinths to collect on the second night.

The split between the 2 routes wasn’t quite even, with Team 3 having to collect 14 Giraffes compared to the 9 that Team 4 had. We were going to rejig this slightly to make it even, but we had a significant wait time at Waverley Station on launch night due to security. Therefore we decided to keep the routes as they were in the event Team 4 were delayed at the train station again. Fortunately for Team 4 they weren’t delayed, but Team 3 were having issues of their own.


On Team 3 we had 2 new drivers and 1 new crew member. This meant they hadn’t been part of the original crews that had set the giraffes up, so they had little to no real knowledge of where the Giraffe About Town sculptures were. Although we had given them tablets and they had their mobiles, a few had forgotten charge them, or ran out of charge halfway through the night (myself included!).

For the majority of sculptures it was easy to follow the Zoo crew onto the next one, but when we were starting to get tight for time, we couldn’t keep up with the Zoo crew. Although each team were meant to stay in convoy, a series of unfortunate traffic lights meant one truck got left on George Street, as the rest headed down to the National Art Gallery. After missing several turns, and a 30 minute delay, our missing truck was soon spotted on the far side of New Town, before making it’s way to the National Galley.


This put Team 3 behind schedule, and a quick call to Team 4 confirmed that they had finished their collections, and were heading off to Ocean Terminal to release their compliment of Giraffe About Town sculptures. The last 2 Giraffe sculptures for Team 4 should’ve been fairly straight forward, but stuck nuts on both Giraffes meant the Zoo crew had to dig out their angle grinder and cut off the stuck bolts, thus delaying us even further.

After the last Giraffe, SK17 was sent back to base with the plinths, with the remaining trucks following the Zoo’s Hilux straight into Ocean Terminal. After a brief wait on the Zoo team opening the fire exit doors, all of the Giraffes safely unloaded back into Giraffe Park – aka the old Debenhams. All of the Giraffe About Town sculptures would remain here to be repaired and touched up after a busy 2 months on the street. Before being taken back to Edinburgh Zoo on the 14th of September in preparation for the Big Farewell Weekend.

4. Improvements - Giraffe About Town

As with anything in life, there’s always room for improvement. Our Giraffe About Town specialist moving project is no exception. Although we successfully completed our objectives, they weren’t without issue. Here’s what we think we could’ve improved on, and how we’re going to improve on it.

Firstly was the lack of a meeting before the collection evenings, similar to the one we had when we first put the Giraffes out. This would’ve helped refresh some memories and also allowed for any questions or queries. It would also have been more advantageous to the crews on the second night, with the new drivers who hadn’t been out when we first put the Giraffes About Town, being given the chance to ask any questions or print a paper copy of the route.


Secondly, we would’ve benefited from a second pair of portable electric lifting jacks. This would’ve saved one crew having to use the poles and straps to lift each plinth. We did try and get another jack, but aside from air freighting one from China, we couldn’t get one in time.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and having had a chance to reflect on project, we’ve decided to implement some changes across the company. The biggest change we’re going to make, is to ensure each van will have their own portable power bank. The will be returned at the end of each day for charging, and given out every morning with the job lines. This will ensure any removal teams out on the road don’t have any excuses for not having a working mobile device.

Lastly, we would also update the way the tablets use google maps. The new tablets worked great outside the city centre, but when inside the concrete jungle that is Edinburgh, our GPS signal was compromised on numerous occasions. Such was the data delay on one device, a driver missed his turning, took the next one, but it sent them down a street that was not suitable for HGVs. Therefore to combat this, we’d have all the tablets pre-programmed with the routes and have them downloaded onto the tablet so it could be used offline in the event of lost data signal or GPS.

If you’ve read this far, then thank you! If you’ve got a special item or items that need moved or shipped abroad, get a quote from the professionals at Purdie Worldwide.

Scroll to Top