(page 8)

Taxidermy Specimens (continued):

    The fifth revision of the ITSD states: 

    "As taxidermies were primarily created for public display, their worth as scientific specimens was often considered of nominal importance.  Essentially these specimens would have been regarded as being replaceable or expendable, and consequently treated with far less reverence than study skins.  The environment in which taxidermy specimens are displayed or stored plays a crucial role in their long term preservation.  Display cases that are brightly lit or exposed to direct sunlight will inevitably lead to bleaching of the fur.  High humidity can result in the development of mould, the formation of rust in the supporting metal armature, and the expansion of the wadding around the manikin, resulting in splitting of the seams and extrusion of the eyes.  Dust is rarely ph neutral; it is usually acidic, and this can hasten damage to the mount over time.  Over heated display or storage areas can result in drying of the skin, increasing the risk of it splitting.  Any splits or separation of the seams will increase the risk of pest ingression.  Although the way in which taxidermy specimens are stored or displayed can expedite their deterioration, so too can poor handling.  Mechanical damage sustained in moving the mounts is an all too common sight, especially to the tails of the thylacine taxidermies".

structural damage to thylacine taxidermy mounts - images - ITSD 2013
A - Split to base of tail, B - Erosion of the ears, C - Exposure of underlying manikin, D - Telescoping of limbs, E - Insect damage to feet, F - Base of tail split exposing metal armature.  Source: International Thylacine Specimen Database (2013).

    Several taxidermy mounts have been destroyed as being no longer fit for display.  In 1884, the impressively titled "Buckland and Spring Bay Tiger & Eagle Extermination Society" killed a female thylacine and her four pouch young.  The animals were forwarded to the Tasmanian Museum in Hobart and preserved for display as a group mount, with one of the young shown entering the mother's pouch.

    The Mercury newspaper of the 15th July 1885 (p. 3), records the museum's latest acquisition:

    "The animals have had several additions during the year.  Notably there is quite a unique group of a female Tasmanian tiger, with four young ones, presented by Mr. William Turvey of Sally Peak, Buckland, Prosser's Plains, a gentleman to whom the Museum is frequently indebted for specimens of these and other native animals.  Mr. Morton has arranged the young ones with graphic ingenuity, and the exhibit is one of which any museum might well be proud".

    Unfortunately, the condition of this unique taxidermy deteriorated over the intervening years and was destroyed by the museum in 1935.  A male mount, often displayed along with the female and her young, was destroyed at the same time.

destroyed Tasmanian Museum group taxidermy
Destroyed Tasmanian Museum group taxidermy.  Photo: John Watt Beattie (Hobart).
destroyed Tasmanian Museum male taxidermy
Destroyed Tasmanian Museum male taxidermy.  Hand coloured photo: J. Walch & Sons (Hobart).
Courtesy: Collection of Dr. Stephen Sleightholme.
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