Taxidermy evolved out of the tanning trade, whose practitioners preserved the skins of animals for use as clothing and blankets. In the early part of the 19th century, some of the first so-called trophy animals were crudely stuffed with scraps of fabric by upholsterers. Later in the Victorian Era, the art of taxidermy as we know it today evolved, pioneered by, among others, Carl Akeley, who worked at the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Although Akeley was one of the leading innovators of taxidermy, excelling in the realistic mounting of mammals, later in his life he would reject the practice of bagging animals such as gorillas just so they could decorate a museum diorama, let alone a hunter's study. By the end of his life, Akeley had devoted himself to protecting these creatures—Africa's first national park was established in 1925 in no small part due his efforts.

Today, collectors of taxidermy have a range of animals and pieces to choose from. Gameheads are perhaps the most well known form of taxidermy. These include zebras, kudu, and other African animals whose heads are attached to pedestals that are designed to hang on a wall.

In the United States, the practice of mounting deer heads is very common, especially if it's a buck with a full rack of antlers. Complete animals known as full mounts tend to be of smaller species such as bobcats and fox, as well as skunks and raccoons.

Mounted fish is another popular taxidermy type. Birds from peacocks to pheasants to roosters mount well, too, as do quail and falcons.

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Recent News: Taxidermy

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Griffith 'renaissance' brings eclectic shops downtown
Hilton Head Island Packet, June 30th

You have a taxidermy shop. You could buy a stuffed grizzly bear, envelopes. You can go see a homeopathic nutritionist. You can go bowling. You can rent space and open up your own business. Go shoot some pool, rent a bulldozer, get a haircut — a damn ...Read more

The right stuff: Spirit Lake taxidermist pins down beauty
Sioux City Journal, June 25th

The owner of Matuska Taxidermy in Spirit Lake made the mount around the age of 10, when he was taking a correspondence course through the Northwestern School of Taxidermy in Omaha, Neb., founded by J.W. Elwood in 1903. Following step-by-step ...Read more

Taxidermists show off their best
CNN, June 21st

More than 300 of the world's best taxidermists -- from 47 states and 14 countries -- gathered in Springfield, Missouri, to showcase their work, which included stuffed mammals, birds, fish and yes, even a Bigfoot concept. While documenting the taxidermy...Read more

My date with a dead bird: A snapshot of the ethical taxidermy resurgence
Mashable, June 20th

Markham works at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and owns Prey Taxidermy, a studio in L.A. She's at the forefront of the "taxidermy resurgence" that has taken place over the past several years — a renewed interest in artfully...Read more

Why Taxidermy Is Being Revived for the 21st Century
Smithsonian, June 19th

“Ahhh, this polyurethane is setting up too quick,” exclaims Allis Markham, proprietor of Prey Taxidermy in Los Angeles. “Sorry, I'm molding bodies right now,” she adds, apologizing for the interruption in our conversation. Markham makes a living as a...Read more

Stuff your own bird at a taxidermy class led by Allis Markham and Jennifer ...
Washington Post, June 18th

Such are the thoughts of a professional taxidermist. Hall is the manager of Prey Taxidermy, an all-woman taxidermy studio in Los Angeles that offers classes and custom mounted works. It was founded in 2014 by Allis Markham, formerly a taxidermist for...Read more

TV star Russell Knight among the Alaskans at taxidermy championships
Alaska Dispatch News, June 8th

Not only were Alaskans competing at the World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships last month, they were on the podium too. Russell Knight, owner of Knight's Taxidermy in Anchorage and star of the cable TV series “Mounted in Alaska” that ran for ...Read more

Masters of Taxidermy Seek to Replicate More Than an Animal's Appearance
New York Times, June 1st

Taxidermy is often seen as a man-cave fetish, with big game mounted on dark wood walls. But at the World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships in Springfield last month, the attendees and participants often seemed to be drawn from an art school or ...Read more