Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

Okay, this is literally about an elephant in a room. I’m conducting an informal poll and need your feedback.

I have become interested in an elephant that was given to the museum before 1925. It’s a real elephant, a baby one in fact, and it was taxidermied for display purposes. (It died of natural causes before it was taxidermied.) Currently the elephant is in storage – she needs a little conservation and love, but it is possible that one day in the future, the same elephant could be put on display again.

In the past this elephant was hugely popular with our visitors. But then, so was taxidermy. It’s been decades since the elephant was on display or since taxidermy was every-living-room normal.

Here are my questions:

1 – Would you be offended to see a baby taxidermied elephant in a museum setting today?

2 – If so, what specifically would be offensive?

3 – Would you be interested in seeing an elephant in a museum?

4 – If so, what specifically would be interesting about it?

5 – Do you have any qualms about museums today displaying endangered species or protected materials like ivory?

6 – Do you have any other comments or questions about elephants that I should know about, since we’re sitting here dishing the elephant scoop? (So to speak. Ew.)

Thank you very much for your input. Once I’ve heard from you, I’ll give you a more detailed history about this elephant, but I don’t want to cloud the general question with specifics just yet.

8 comments:

HolyMama! said...

here is where i am the bad guy.

i would be freaked out b a dead elephant. can't be more specific, just ew. ew. ew, with circling fists and foot stomping a la ethan stle.

and? i have an irratinal dislike of museums in general.

you're going to get more specific with this one? watch out!!

The Bass Player's Wife said...

Hmm...
I, too, am mildly freaked out by stuffed dead animals. My young nephews, however, LOVE LOVE LOVE when I take them to our pathetic little Natural History Museum.
I guess it would depend on the treatment. Is this a famous elephant? Is it Dumbo?

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

I wouldn't be offended at all. My kids love museums and that is where they have learned a lot of things. I think knowledge is power and what better way to learn than see first hand?

kittyhox said...

Why in the world would I be offended by a taxidermied elephant, at a museum?

I do think that, since it is a baby, it would be very appropriate to have a large sign indicating the elephant died of NATURAL causes.

Also, I think a museum is the only appropriate place for items like ivory.

:)

kittyhox said...

Oh, I forgot to add that, yes, it would be interesting. I think because an elephant isn't the kind of animal most of us have the opportunity to see up close, in our every day lives.

LaLa said...

Thank you for your comments! Keep 'em coming! I will give you a summary and an update in the near future...

Jeana said...

We saw a real, stuffed (adult) elephant at the Field Museum in Chicago, but I didn't think it was real at first! I was sure it was a statue. It was only an hour into our visit that I realized that almost everything in the museum was a taxidermied animal. It didn't offend me, but I did wonder because that's not so PC right now, then I saw a sign explaining that all the animals that were purposely killed were killed before (date long ago) and that NOW they only accept ones who died of natural causes.

So yes, I think you should display it, along with a sign explaining his death, which would serve a double purpose of also informing people like me that it's a real elephant. But I think you will still get someone complaining because that's just how people are, but you probably already know that.

Pumpkin said...

Possibly way too late to actually add anything to the debate....but hey ho....
If the elephant died of natural causes and is now being used as a way of teaching others about the species, the biology...I think it's a good thing and kind of have a philosophy that goes like this:
animal dies of natural causes, animal goes through the whole taxidermy process, animal is seen and loved and wondered over and learned from and even given a pet name by those who visit it's home (museum)...animal has an impact on those who see it for a LONG time....it's good!

I promise that this is my last comment for this evening.