"Cramp skinning": an alternative way of animal protection

 The staff began to prepare specimens for the vultures

A group of people in white coats stood in front of the operating table, and in front of them was a bald eagle with a drained blood. Even though the bald eagle is dead, people have not let it go: some people hold scissors and cut off its wings; some people use a plucker to pluck every tiny feather; others are responsible for removing the bald eagle. Every piece of flesh on the eagle's body is stripped from the bone...

Who are they and why are they so cruel? You will not believe that they are the staff of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). They are engaged in the protection of bald eagles. They are now doing the last step of animal protection-making specimens.

Great knowledge of animal specimens

In the United States, the bald eagle was on the verge of extinction, so the FWS launched the bald eagle recovery program, by capturing wild vultures and restoring the population through captive breeding. The staff put marks on each vulture and tracked their life course. After the death of the vulture, the staff will collect their bodies. Slowly, the "morgue" of vultures was almost full. What should the "latecomers" do? The FWS staff gave the dead vultures an opportunity to "use the residual heat". The Smithsonian Institution Museum in the United States agreed to accept the vulture corpse for display as a specimen, so the FWS staff began to learn to make the vulture into a specimen.

Did you make specimens in your elementary school nature class? Do you remember how it was done? Maybe it was clipped wild flowers and grasses that were picked up in a blank homework book, or put the caught butterflies and dragonflies in a transparent plastic bag, and brought them to the class to give the teacher grades and the specimen lesson ended. If you can turn out the specimens made at that time from the bottom of the box, you will find that all these "specimen" are turned into powder. This is of course the "credit" of the microbes. For so many years, they have been eating the dead bodies of animals and plants until they have "eaten" the skin, flesh and skeleton, and finally the remaining inorganic matter will no longer be formed.


Of course, museum specimens cannot be made in this way, so how should they be made? The easiest way is to soak, the items in the liquid "keep fresh" longer, the canned fruit can keep the complete shape for a long time than the fresh fruit. As long as the whole animal and plant corpses are thrown into formalin (aqueous formaldehyde solution, which has the functions of antiseptic, disinfection and bleaching), the immersion specimen is completed.

But vultures are not suitable for this method, because after soaking in formalin for a long time, the corpse will become white and fat. This is because formalin has a bleaching effect, and water will slowly enter the corpse and remove the flesh. "Hold up". Therefore, the immersion method is usually used to make specimens of aquatic animals and plants. They are very adaptable to the water environment when they are alive. Even if they become white and fat, they are closer to the alive state.

The FWS staff chose the stripping method for vultures, which is a method of preparing specimens specially for reptiles, birds, and mammals, which can keep them in their pre-mortem or naughty and cute or heroic state to the greatest extent. The specimens we see in museums that stand or lie down, and even "stare" at visitors with their eyes open, are made using the peeling method.

Stripped specimens are not easy to do

The method is selected, but it is not easy for beginners to complete a majestic vulture specimen. The entire production process of peeling specimens should be much more difficult than the production process of the famous eight-treasure duck in my country. The chef needs to hollow out the duck's belly from a hole less than 10 cm in the back, then stuff it with glutinous rice, ham, winter bamboo shoots and other ingredients, and finally sew it into a duck that looks intact from the outside. . To peel the specimens, the "duck" must stand up again. One can imagine how difficult it is.

Next, let us follow the FWS staff to learn how to make stripped specimens.

The "cramp peeling" mentioned above is the most critical step in the production process, but before that, we must first collect data on the animal, such as measuring its height, weight, and measurements. This is an important basis for us to "resurrect" animals in the future. Without these original data, the final specimens will be out of shape.

Be very careful when peeling off the animal's fur. Usually, you open an incision on the chest or back of the animal, and then slowly cut off the nerves and blood vessels between the skin and the flesh, so that the entire animal's fur is completely peeled off. If you accidentally make an extra cut on the fur, not only will it be difficult to repair, but even microorganisms may invade the specimen from this cut, causing the entire specimen to fail.


After the peeling is complete, there are two important steps next. First of all, the leather must be cleaned, soaked and antiseptic. Now only need to put the fur in some common chemicals such as citric acid, salt, baking soda and other solutions for a period of time to complete this step. Next, measure the skinned animal's "measurement" and combine it with the overall animal data that has been measured before to make the animal's "new body".

The "new body" of animals is a bit like dolls. According to the changes of the times, the stuffing materials of dolls have changed from straw to cotton, sponge and silicone, and so are animal prostheses. The predecessors used straw, cotton, gypsum, and even soil to fill the specimens, and now the most mainstream way around the world is to use lightweight materials (new composite materials, mainly including lightweight bricks, porous metal materials, etc.) to make prostheses.

The process of making animal prostheses is very difficult. It requires the producer to have a good understanding of the living animals, know how their movements and postures are when they survive, and at the same time have a strong foundation in fine art sculpture, so that they can make a lifelike Prosthesis. However, as long as we can provide accurate measurements of the animal's body, we can find a professional factory to make animal prostheses.


After the prosthesis is made, take the "ironed" "clothes" and put it on, then use needles and threads to mended the "clothes", and finally "make up" it, and the animal will be "full of blood and resurrected" "Again. To make an animal "live", it is necessary to "make up" its expression to "live". For example, when encountering a predator, it is necessary to show its panic through the angle of the eyes and the tightness of the facial lines. When seeing the prey, the bald eagle may stare with round eyes and exert force with four claws, showing a mighty side.

After all these difficulties, the newly "resurrected" vultures can finally meet the audience in the museum. As for the other specimens in the museum, I don’t know how much sweat and hard work has been condensed behind them. When we visit these specimens again, please enjoy them for a while.



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