20 April, 2012

Taxidermy Talk

Photo made by Shody Careman, filters by me. 

A Dutch newspaper ‘het Algemeen Dagblad’ wanted to write a little article about my collection of taxidermy a couple of weeks ago. I never got around to put it online, but here it is. I’m not going to translate it line for line, I’ll just try to explain why I like taxidermy so much.

When I grew up at the age of 7 I liked to climb trees, build forts, and explore my surroundings like every little kid. All available nature at that time however were little patches of yellow grass alongside  the road,  and trees next to a dirty pond. That didn’t stop me however. Sometimes,  when I was lucky, the occasional road kill would cross my path. Most of the times it was a duck and one lucky time a big grey heron. Finally I could see them up close and study their wings, beak, feet, everything really and I poked the animal with sticks. The next following days I tried to visit the slowly decaying animal until it was gone. Call it healthy curiosity.
All the animals I grew up with made up for the lack of nature though. My grandparents have a long history of fish- and pet- shops and when I was 4 years old I occasionally stayed over at friends whom had a pig farm. So from a young age I’ve learned to respect animals. Coming across sick and dead animals is not something unusual to me. I remember one funny story when I got to chose what I wanted to have for dinner and I remembered their chicken soup was delicious so immediately chose that! They brought me to their chicken coop, and I was still unaware what was going to happen, they let me choose one chicken. The farmer catches the chicken, grabs a small axe and chops the chicken’s head off in front of me. I must have been 5 years old but I remember thinking “oh is that how it’s made? Ahhh well it’s REALLY good chicken soup!”. So it didn’t bother me that much. I gave my dead gecko to my biology teacher to put it in formaldehyde.

Algemeen Dagblad, 31 Maart 2012. Photo got cropped for unknown reasons.

But don’t get me wrong; I don’t agree how the food industry treats most of their animals. I don’t agree with hunting for fun. I also don’t agree with hunting for taxidermy. I do agree using every part of an animal that got killed. And that it is ok to kill animals for food or when they are in unbearable pain and there’s no way the animal would get back to normal health. It’s weird how distant we have grown from animals. I know people who can’t even cut meat into pieces because they don’t like the feel of it but at the same time they’ll eat meat every day. And when their meat resembles the animal it once was they even refuge to eat it.

With taxidermy people think it’s weird or sad for the animal. If the animal is found dead, or killed due to health reasons I don’t see a problem reusing it for taxidermy. Like recycling the animal and use it for decoration or educational purposes. Just think about it; when a polar bear from a zoo dies of old age, what a waste of the animal it would be if they would just throw it away! Instead they could turn it into a beautiful piece of taxidermy and use it to educate visitors about polar bears. The magic of taxidermy is for me that you’re able to finally see and feel an animal up close you otherwise would never encounter. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle with a bear or feel a wolf’s paw!

Soon I'll be staring with mounting little insects and butterflies and I'm thinking about following a workshop how to clean and mount bird skeletons.

To finish this post I’ll share one of my favorite websites and taxidermist Sarina Brewer and this crappy taxidermy blog.

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