Museum Staff Cleaning Elephant skin
How do you stuff an elephant? The obvious answer is ‘with great difficulty’.
Just look at their size, and you wonder… how, do these dead animals get to look so alive?
Few people realise that, when you look at a ‘stuffed’ animal, you’re looking at a tanned skin that’s been skillfully fitted over a postured mannequin or a replica of the animal’s body, and not at a preserved carcass.
That might be blindingly obvious but, believe it or not, most people do honestly think that a taxiderm mount is a pickled or freeze-dried carcass, or a carcass that has had its innards ripped out and replaced with straw or cotton wool or something.
For small animals, the mannequin might be made from plaster, wood, plastic, wood wool, or any number of other materials, but for a giant thing like an elephant, a pseudo-skeleton has to be constructed from wood, metal and plaster (or their more modern equivalents), and this in turn is used to support mesh, cloth and eventually clay.