When you think of taxidermied animals, what comes to mind? Do you picture a big game hunter’s trophy room filled with heads of exotic game, slayed on safari? Or do you imagine a diorama featuring rabbits in school, or a squirrel dressed up in hunting clothes? Both are valid thoughts, but it’s important to recognize the difference between traditional and novelty taxidermy.
Traditional taxidermy has been around for centuries. The ancient Egyptians preserved their cats and dogs after death, but taxidermy as we know it got its start in Europe.
Naturalist Pierre Belon wrote the first book on how to taxidermy animals in 1555. Other instructions on performing taxidermy were written throughout the 1600s. Early animals were stuffed with straw or cotton; some were prepared better than others and are still around today. From the late seventeenth century onwards, the improvement of taxidermic practices is directly correlated to the scientific study of the natural world.
Whether alive or dead, the general public became enamored with the natural world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. People couldn’t get enough of fascinating animals from around the globe. Obviously, transferring animals from other continents wasn’t an easy feat, so naturalists like Charles Waterton often opted to taxidermy animals he could catch in South America and Africa and bring them back to his native England.
Waterton went above and beyond in his taxidermy practices. Much like a taxidermist in Cody, WY would do, he meticulously recreated animal’s proportions to make them look as lifelike as possible.
About the same time Waterton was creating lifelike animals, a taxidermist named Walter Potter was taking a very different approach to displaying dead animals. Potter was known for creating anthropomorphic scenes of mounted animals mimicking human life. He displayed his works at his personal museum in England, which at one point had over 10,000 exhibits of novelty taxidermy. Exhibits ranged from kittens getting married, to guinea pigs playing cricket.
Novelty taxidermied animals are still popular today. A mounted “jackalope” or a squirrel in hunter’s clothes can make a great gag gift and can be purchased on many different websites. Some people also see novelty taxidermy in the same way Walter Potter did: as a form of artistic expression that blends natural beauty with quirkiness or irony. Whatever the case, novelty taxidermy has its place among this aged craft.
Only the best taxidermy
At Nature’s Design Taxidermy, we only practice traditional taxidermy. We think novelty taxidermy is fun to look at, but we’ve built our business around creating the highest quality, most lifelike mounts available. We can taxidermy any animal to make it look like it did when it was alive in its natural habitat. We’ve done everything from elephant mounts to displays of hyenas chasing a pack of zebra. If you’re looking for a taxidermist in Cody, WY to create the most realistic mounts and displays on the market, call us today at 307-527-6053.
Click on our gallery to see some of our work!