I feel like there is a lot of stigma when it comes to taxidermy. People think it is weird and creepy, and will assume that if you have an interest in taxidermy, then you must hate wildlife. I feel that this mindset should be re-looked.
Taxidermy is a way to preserve wildlife. I think that preserving animals that died naturally (Opposed to trophy hunting) is a great way to teach others about these animals. Museums house a majority of taxidermy, an so do universities.
Similarly, study skins (A bit like taxidermy, but not in a natural pose and without eyes, basically a skin stuffed with cotton) are extremely valuable in collecting data about a species.
In addition, taxidermy is a really neat art form. Defleshing and preserving the skin without the fur coming out can be tricky. Getting the animal’s pose right requires knowledge on anatomy.
Do you have an opinion on public perceptions of taxidermy, or would you like to share your personal opinion? If you are a taxidermist, (Amatuer or professional) how do people feel about your work? and lastly, why do people treat taxidermy like it’s creepy, especially in a time when we consume so much meat?
I look foreward to hearing people’s thoughts on this subject.
I am not surprised that many people have some type of aversion to taxidermy because it involves remains of dead organisms, which I think can be deep-seated for many.
That said, I do think taxidermy is quite interesting. I agree that it can be an art, and is also scientifically important in some contexts, like natural history collections.
On the other hand, those tourist tchotchkes that are like posed, taxidermied animals make me a bit sad as I wonder if they were just killed for people’s amusement (even if they are things like cane toads, which I don’t have a moral objection to killing ethically).
I have no objection to taxidermy as long as it is done ethically. I actually like the aesthetic. I also like skeleton mounts. Replica fish taxidermy is fantastic for allowing the fisherman to ‘take home a trophy’ while having the satisfaction of releasing a valuable breeding fish back into the wild.
Interesting that you make this distinction. Taxidermy began as a service for trophy hunters; the educational displays made from animals that died naturally were a secondary development.
If we are speaking of teaching others about these animals, I would allow that a mounted, salvaged skin in a lifelike pose and setting is in many respects free of the ethical controversy of keeping a live animal in captivity. Zoos make me sad; I can’t enjoy them because all I see is that the enclosures are invariably much smaller than what the animals’ home range in the wild would be. (Yes, this affects my position on the outdoor cats controversy.) In its natural life, that eland or wart hog would travel further in a day than I did walking through all the zoo’s exhibits. A museum diorama of an eland can give viewers a taste of how it lives, without subjecting a living eland to unnatural restrictions on its movements.
Fascinating! I wonder how they make them have proper poses? Sounds quite challenging considering you’re starting out with just a floppy bag and you have to stuff the right volume into specific areas (not fully filling them) and have to carefully fit some sort of “skeleton” into each part of it to move it into the proper pose. I’m just postulating though, I have no idea how this works. I’m sure removing the flesh from the skin is also quite a challenge but personally I’d really rather not try to imagine it. Aside from that, really the only weird thing to me (other than the dress-up mentioned earlier) is when people do that to their pets. That bothers me for some reason.
Agreed about the tacky ones. I’m pretty sure a lot of these are indeed killed for the purpose. I’d say that sometimes “weird” taxidermy can come from a place of people finding it endearing and having good intentions, but most of it seems to be about ridiculing the animals.
I did a lot of nature education in after school programs and summer camps, and taxidermied animals were great for that, as well as plastic replicas of prints, bones, etc. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with taxidermy, but because it involves dead things it will bring up many strong emotions in people.
We walked with eland. The Gantouw Project is still going strong, but the animals have been moved. Project trains teams of young people in general conservation skills and sends them out into paid employment. All good.
Its like faux taxidermy, basically a sculpture of a fish in the case of replica fish taxidermy. anglers catch a fish, take measurements and pictures, release them, and give the pics + measurements to someone who does this, and they can make one.
Replica fish taxidermy is essentially a fake taxidermied fish. The angler takes a couple of photos and basic measurements of the fish before quickly releasing it. The taxidermist later uses that information to create a replica of that fish in whatever style of mount the angler desires. They are mostly made from fiberglass and then painted to match the angler’s photo as closely as possible.
Personally, I’m for that. Taxidermists can be professionals, preparing exhibits commercially for museums, hunters or anglers, as well as amateurs - preparing exhibits as part of their hobby. The preparation of taxidermic exhibits requires knowledge of anatomy, autopsy, sculpting, painting and tanning. It’s not an easy thing.
I used to work in a children’s nature center and we had quite a lot of taxidermy, especially some nice bird collections. They were very useful for teaching children about the features of different animals.
My favorite was a raccoon that was so very life-like people would do a double take when they saw it on my display table or on top of a box in my car as I drove to the site.