每日跟讀#666: Preserving pets for posterity
Many people treat their pets like a member of the family. When a beloved family pet passes away, some owners choose to have them stuffed and preserved by a taxidermist; however many people know little of the art of taxidermy. A skilled taxidermist is able to retain the animal’s appearance just as it was before it died and capture a realistic pose so that it can stay by its owner’s side even after death.
Taxidermist Kuo Wei-hung says “We respect both the feelings of the pet and its owner. According to the owner’s wishes, we may retain the animal’s skeleton and organs, but whatever we do we are always respectful toward the animal.”
Although Kuo would watch his father, a taxidermist, preserve animals and acquired some basic knowledge through osmosis, Kuo’s original desire was to work in the food and beverage industry. However, as his father’s health began to deteriorate, Kuo would lend a hand and came into contact with his father’s clients. Kuo began to understand the heartfelt wish of the pet owners to preserve their loved one after death, and was extremely moved by the affection owners displayed for their furry friends. Kuo also wanted to carry on the family business and these twin feelings motivated him to enter the world of taxidermy.
Kuo began by studying the physical composition, unique characteristics and habits of each species of pet animal. This meant that when discussing preservation methods with clients, Kuo could fully understand a pet’s unique qualities and also predict what challenges he might encounter during the process. On receiving a new specimen, Kuo first cleans internal organs and feces from inside the body. He then asks the owner whether they wish to preserve their pet or opt for cremation. If the client wishes to preserve the animal, Kuo will then carry out a second stage of cleaning and ask what type of posture they would like their pet to adopt before starting the modeling process. All of this work has to be carried out in a cool environment at room temperature.
The next step involves allowing the body to dry out, which is either done by air-drying or through freezing. While this is happening Kuo must pay attention to any areas of the body that may begin to sag, and will stuff these areas with cotton wool as necessary. Once the animal is thoroughly dried out, Kuo uses modeling clay to fill in any contours and lines around the eyes, and will also cover any scarring to the skin.