Taxidermy, an art with a difference

July 13th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by ANI  

By Rajesh
Mumbai, July 13 (ANI): Taxidermy is an art, which involves cleaning out the organs and blood and eyes, and replacing them with substances to preserve them and replace the eyes.
An Associate Professor at Bombay Veterinary College and a specialist in veterinarian anatomy, Prof. Santosh Gaikwad is one of the hard to find taxidermists in India.
“Taxidermy is related to the skin. Taxi means arrangement and Dermi means skin and thus the arrangement of the skin is called as Taxidermy. In case of mammals, there are hair over the skin, in case of birds, there are feathers over the skin and in case of fishes and reptiles there are scales over the skin. This is what we preserve in this art,” said Prof. Santosh Gaikwad.
Gaikwad’’s most recent acquisition lies inside an anatomy room in the college.
A full grown male leopard that was donated by Jijamata Udyaan (Zoo), better known as Victoria Gardens, stands on a table with an expression and posture fierce enough to make anyone believe it is real. The leopard had died aged 17.
Prof. Gaikwad believes that this art can help students to understand the delicate working of the animals” internal systems right from the bones to muscles and other organs.
He maintains if we continue to use such properly stuffed animals as models for study and research, even in death, these animals can be useful for the mankind.
Gaikwad’’s latest model is that of an eight feet ostrich, which he has placed in his private museum at home.
It is a multi-disciplinary art that requires knowledge of anatomy, dissection, sculpting, carpentry, painting and tanning of animals as essential. And, depending on the animal and its size, the process can stretch from a week to over a month to finish.
Preservation of the dead animal in question is done from inside.
Taxidermy is a tedious process, which involves various stages. Larger animals, like in case of the leopard, have to be sliced in a way that the incision runs from head to toe. After which each limb has to be attended to in some way.
Taxidermy can be performed on all species of animals including humans. The methods that taxidermists practice have been improved over the last century, heightening taxidermic quality.
Taxidermists may practice professionally, for museums or as a business catering to hunters and fishermen, or as amateurs, such as hobbyists, hunters, and fishermen.
In India, one only wishes that the likes of Prof. Santosh Gaikwad will ensure that the country gains a reputation as the home to perfection in taxidermy, which Van Ingen & Van Ingen of Mysore had earned and retained for over a century. (ANI)

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