Stuffed and pickled

We spent a couple of hours in the local African Museum this morning, ostensibly to visit the Spider exhibition. This was fun and high on the “Ewww!” factor for our kids, although it was interesting to note that half the fun came in trying to locate the various specimens inside their glass cases. Once spotted, there wasn’t much to see as they were all virtually immobile.

Paradoxically the traditional stuffed and embalmed animals attracted me more, mostly for reasons related to the manner of their preservation. For example, how long does it take to stuff a full-grown hippo?

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The baby hippo looks disturbed/ing.

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Something about the chimps’ faces was a little off.

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I’m no good at reading chimps’ facial expressions, but I’d guess this one’s not too happy.

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And then in the next room, a phantasmagorical collection of snakes in jars. Beautiful.

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I loved not only the selection of species but the variety of poses.

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Probably my favourite.

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Almost eating its own tail.

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Helical.

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Gasping for air.

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Token disgruntled frog.

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Yes, yes, feel free to make a froggy Gangnam Style joke.

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3 thoughts on “Stuffed and pickled

  1. J January 3, 2013 / 5:51 am

    These pictures reminded me of the first day I met my father. I was 21, and we went (along with my mom, who raised me) to the Academy of Science in San Francisco. There was a hall of stuffed animals like this, that I loved when I was younger. But this time, perhaps partially because of the high emotions of the day…it broke my heart. All of those animals, who died for nothing. We are animals ourselves, and many of us eat meat. So to die for food has some meaning. But to die in order to be stuffed and have people come and stare at you? Especially the babies? It broke my heart. I cried so hard I almost threw up. Not exactly the impression one wants to make on ones dad, the first time you meet.

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  2. simon January 3, 2013 / 9:44 am

    Chiara was a little upset too, asking why they’d killed animals just to stuff them. I explained that they’re not allowed to do that any more.

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  3. Inland Empirical January 17, 2013 / 9:12 pm

    My introduction to the work of Hirst was a pickled shark. It *is* upsetting and I don’t get it, but I still look.

    Like

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