My article “Behind taxidermy display halls are lots of donors of (unsolicited) dead animals” appears in Washington Post. Here’s the lede:
David Skelly returned to his desk one day to find a two-headed snapping turtle in a mayonnaise jar. “I still don’t know where that came from,” says Skelly, director of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.
For years, Skelly brought the turtle to elementary schools as a teaching tool, but then a colleague borrowed it — and lost it. “There is nothing like a two-headed turtle to get everyone’s attention,” he says. “It is a great conversation starter.”
Walking through taxidermy mount halls at natural history museums, visitors are likely to hear a lot of conversations start. Incredulous children often ask parents or teachers, “Is it real?” But one aspect of the stuffed animals that isn’t much discussed is how they arrive and end up so pristinely preserved.