Taxidermy, or “stuffed” animals, are specimens that have been specially prepared, preserved and posed to show what the creature may have been like in life, but the real and the not real here is difficult. The animal itself is, or was, a real animal; there are no taxidermy unicorns, for example. Like many natural history museums, the Smithsonian devotes a lot of space to dead, stuffed, and perched animals. This dates back to the 19th century, when scientists used taxidermy to study exotic animals.
The practice has gradually died out, thanks to advances in photography, field research and conservation (a whole animal suspended in alcohol is much more useful than one's dry shell). Not all the animals in the Museum are stuffed to make it look like they are alive, most of them are kept behind the scenes in the Museum's collections. Ms. Sutton doesn't use animals that were killed for taxidermy, instead she uses reptile food, roadkill, and animals that died naturally, and she said she creates taxidermy to preserve the animal's beauty.
Indian exhibits included a stuffed elephant (although that animal was actually an African elephant found in a nearby museum). In the early days, the animals were gutted and tanned and then stuffed with straw and sawdust, before being sewn back together. While they still scare me, stuffed animals can clearly arouse an appreciation and a sense of wonder about the natural world. For a smaller animal, such as a mouse, the process takes between two and three hours, but a larger cat (a kitten is shown playing croquet from the Walter Potter collection) or a hare can take up to three days.
A study skin is not supposed to make an animal look alive, but rather it is used to help scientists compare animal colors and patterns. From that moment on, taxidermists began to stretch the animal's skin on sculpted molds, or mannequins, typically made of polyurethane foam. It is necessary to place the eyes on the “doll” that will be placed through the sockets of the animal's skin, and there are companies like Live Eyes that specialize in creating eyes that look as realistic as possible. If a hunter is unable to take the deer to a taxidermist within days of killing it, then he needs to skin it himself.
In the 1970s, so-called animal stuffing stopped and taxidermists began stretching the animal's skin over sculpted molds, or mannequins, typically made of foam. If you end up with a bad assembly job or if years later the mount has started to deteriorate, a good taxidermist can solve your problems. After photographing it as a reference, he took detailed measurements with a measuring tape and tweezers, compensating for variations that make a dead animal different from a living one, such as deflated lungs, a flabby trunk and flaccid muscles. When an image simply doesn't work, these nature lovers spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars for a taxidermist to preserve the memory of death through a fascinating process of conservation and recreation.
According to Péquignot, taxidermy began to emerge in the 16th century, when Europeans began assembling the skins of several animals and developed methods and chemicals to preserve them.