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