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Taxidermy


((PKG)) THE ART OF CONSERVING NATURE
((TRT: 07:36))
((Topic Banner:
The Art of Conservation))
((Reporter/Camera:
Aaron Fedor))
((Editor:
Kyle Dubiel))
((Producer: Kathleen McLaughlin))
((Map:
Brooklyn, New York))
((Main character: 1 female))
((NATS))
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))

I got interested in taxidermy because I've always loved nature, I've always loved art, and I've always loved science and taxidermy is a combination of all of that. This is a glossy starling, and you can see it's a cleaned and preserved skin. This is a domestically-raised bird that is naturally deceased. So, that is how I came upon this bird. ((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
Often the animals are sourced ethically, legally, sustainably. Everyone sort of has a different way of talking about the way they source animals, but animals that I source are sourced completely as sustainably as possible. And that's a real standard across the whole industry.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Courtesy: Divya Anantharaman/Gotham Taxidermy))
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))

I got into taxidermy as a hobby. I started collecting antique taxidermy and started collecting natural history artifacts in general. So, shells and minerals and gems and rocks and all sorts of other stuff like that. So, this is what goes, this foam body is what will go inside of the skin to make the bird, to fill out the bird, to make it look alive again.
((NATS))
((Courtesy: Divya Anantharaman/Gotham Taxidermy))

((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
I work mostly with birds and small mammals. So, I really love working on sort of the smaller creatures that people often overlook or creatures that people often don't think of when they think of taxidermy.
((Courtesy: George Dante Studios))
People don't really think of small birds, but I love them so much because they're animals that I find just fascinating and breathtaking and just full of wonder.
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
What I love most about taxidermy is just that never-ending sense of like
((Courtesy: George Dante Studios))
renewing that joy and wonder and fascination with nature. Every time you get close to nature, you see something new. And taxidermy gives us this really special thing where it's this amazing tool for conservation and that is a storytelling tool. You know, I can, through the art of taxidermy,
((Courtesy: George Dante Studios))
I can tell a story about an animal and someone can get close to that animal and feel something and see something that they might not be able to see if that animal were alive because we really
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
shouldn't get close to wildlife when it's alive, you know. We should maintain our distance from wildlife so it stays wild.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
The types of clients I have vary. There are artistic clients, people who want taxidermy as home décor. There are also clients, I also have clients that are museums and educational institutions and things like that.
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
I always consider taxidermy as a scientific art or an artistic science,
((Courtesy: Divya Anantharaman/Gotham Taxidermy))
because it does combine quite a bit of both. So, you need to have a knowledge of the species in order to recreate it. And then you also need to have sort of this artist’s touch, because in order to perform taxidermy, there are a few skills involved. There's, of course, skinning and fleshing and specimen prep, which can tend to be more on the scientific side.
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
And then there's sculpting and painting and, you know, grooming and preening which can be more on the artistic side.
((Courtesy: Divya Anantharaman/Gotham Taxidermy))
For me, as a kid, you know, I've always grown up in big cities. So, nature kind of felt very precious. It felt very rare. It felt sort of like a little treasure finding that in the city. So, I really enjoyed the times I could spend at the parks or times I'd spend at beaches or sort of the city person's version of nature.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
I think there is a lot we can learn through old taxidermy pieces because when we think of a historic object or an artifact, we think of something like a sculpture or something like a tool or something like that. But taxidermy is so much more than that. Taxidermy embodies, it embodies the life of an animal.
((Courtesy: Divya Anantharaman/Gotham Taxidermy))
It embodies the life and the artwork and the passion of the person who preserved that animal.
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
So, with that, you know, you’re sort of embodying the human/animal relationship. One of the most important sort of functions of taxidermy is preserving animals that have gone extinct or being a record of taxonomy for animals that have gone extinct especially. You know, there is the passenger pigeon. I've had the really great pleasure of restoring the passenger pigeon
((Courtesy: Divya Anantharaman/Gotham Taxidermy))
and it's really electric to be face-to-face with a creature that has gone extinct and knowing that, you know, knowing how haunting of a reminder it is that we need to, you know, that we need to take care of our planet. We need to preserve biodiversity as it’s living, as it’s current and now,
((Courtesy: George Dante Studios))
but it's also really interesting to kind of be face-to-face with something that has outlived you in a way.
((Courtesy: Divya Anantharaman/Gotham Taxidermy))
You know, even though the passenger pigeons aren't flying in our skies now, this specimen has outlived
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
the others of it’s kind, in order to communicate this message, in order to be this representation or this ambassador of its species, so that we can all learn not just about the passenger pigeon, but about the conditions that led to its demise and hopefully prevent that for other animals in the future.
((NATS))
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
So now, I'm going to be finishing up, you know, finishing up the little finishing touches on the bird. So here, I have these pins in the eyes. I'm just going to make sure that I'm adjusting the eyelid shape. I'm just going to sort of, you know, use a pin to kind of trace around the eyelid to get the shape really, really nice.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Courtesy: YouTube))

But through taxidermy through, whether it's a piece of home decor, whether it's a piece that's a diorama, whether it's a piece that is, you know, something in between,
((Divya Anantharaman, Gotham Taxidermy))
I think that people can have a moment of stillness. They can have a moment of appreciation for that animal's beauty and get lost in the details and really surrender their curiosity to that animal and that will drive them to conserve nature. Because once you get close to something, you care about it. When you care about something, you want to conserve it. And I think that sort of summed up picture is the most wonderful thing about taxidermy.
((NATS/MUSIC))

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