Click a question to read the answers.
What is taxidermy? +
Taxidermy is the movement of skin. The word originally comes from two Greek words: taxis (movement) and derma (skin). The practice of making taxidermy typically involves removing the natural skin from a specimen (be it fur, feathers, or scales), tanning or preserving it, and moving it onto an artificial armature or mannequin. The skin is then moved or adjusted to sit on the mannequin to appear as a lifelike sculpture or representation of the animal in a static pose.
What is taxidermy made of? Is it real? +
In general, only the skin of a taxidermy piece or mount is "real." In a modern deer head mount, for example, the only natural parts of the animal used are the antlers and the skin. All of the other parts are recreated with man-made materials. The eyes are made from glass, the eyelids are sculpted from clay, the soft tissues of the nose and mouth are sculpted from epoxy, and the mannikin or form underneath the skin (which incorporates the anatomy of each muscle and vein) is made from polyurethane foam, which can be carved and altered to fit.
Where do the animals come from? +
Depending on the circumstances, the pieces are variously sourced from: butcher/sustenance remains, utilized roadkill, discarded livestock, destroyed nuisance animals, deceased feeder animals for pet snakes and exotics, repurposed vintage pieces, deceased pets, donated animals that died of natural causes, and various other sources. You can email us if you have a specimen you'd like to donate to the studio.
Will you taxidermy my pet? What about my dog or cat? +
Yes, we taxidermy small pets for people quite often, however it does take considerably more in terms of our time and your budget than our regular online shop offerings. We do not handle dogs or cats at this time at the Brooklyn Taxidermy location. We recommend you contact Mark Van Leuven at Buckshot Taxidermy in Sussex, NJ to get a quote for a dog or cat, based on their breed and weight. Call him and tell him you were referred by Brooklyn Taxidermy. The shop is approx a 2 hour drive from NYC. Our owner (Amber) learned from Mark and still works very regularly at his shop on larger projects, so if you need help getting a frozen pet to the NJ shop, we are happy to work with you or your veterinarian to arrange transport.
What should I do with a deceased animal to prepare it for taxidermy? +
Deceased animals should be frozen as soon as possible to avoid decomposition. Place the animal in a sealed ziplock or plastic bag. It can stay in the freezer indefinitely until you are ready to deliver it frozen to the taxidermist. To check to see if decomposition has begun, wear gloves and tug on the fur or feathers. If it easily pulls out, the specimen cannot be taxidermied. Same if the specimen is abnormally bloated, smells rotten, or has bugs on it.
Can I donate deceased specimens to your studio? +
Sometimes, as long as they are legal and are in suitable condition. Use our Contact page to reach out to us.
What about owls and hawks? Are any animals illegal to taxidermy? +
There are both federal and state laws regarding taxidermy, and every state is different. The Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) all regulate and afford protection to thousands of plant and animal species worldwide that are federally listed as threatened or endangered. This includes migratory birds, songbirds, hawks, owls, eagles, vultures, buzzards, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, polar bears, walrus, manatees, sea otters, whales, elephants, coral, and thousands more. This also includes ivory, skulls, fur coats, rugs, and anything derived of protected species' parts. If you find a deceased animal, skull, or single feather of a protected species, it's best to leave it be; it's illegal to have any part of it in your possession. These law are no joke – fines can run up to $100,000 and a year of jail time for individuals and much more for organizations. We will never risk working on or being in possesion of any of these species just to make some extra income. As for the state of New York, the following cannot be bought or sold as taxidermy in NY:
Leopard, Snow Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Tiger, Asiatic Lion, Cheetah, Alligators, Caiman or Crocodile of the Order Crocodylia (except as provided in subdivision two of this section), tortoises of the genus Gopherus, marine turtles of the family Cheloniidae and the family Dermochelidae, Vicuna, Wolf, Red Wolf, or Kangaroo or Polar Bear, Mountain Lion, sometimes called Cougar, Jaguar, Ocelot, or Margay, Sumatran Rhinoceros, or Black Rhinoceros. SOMETIMES: The importation and sale of the skin, body or parts therefrom of Alligators, Caiman or Crocodile of the Order Crocodylia. For more info, contact the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation: (518) 402-8013
Do you do custom work/commissions or repairs/cleanings? +
Yes, we often clean, repair, restore, and refresh existing taxidermy, giving these pieces yet another chance to be loved and admired for their natural beauty. Feel free to use our Contact page to reach out. Please note that there is a $100 minimum for these services.
Do you do rentals?
Yes, we do. We generally have a $100 minimum on rentals, and require a deposit of the full price of the item(s). Many of our available pieces can be found on our SHOP and ETSY pages.
What should I do if i suspect my taxidermy may have some kind of bugs or infestation? +
Place it into a sealed bag and into a freezer ASAP. This will kill anything that may be living on it. If you're freezer cannot accomodate your taxidermy, we may be able to help. We also recommend you get your piece professionally cleaned afterwards to handle any remaining debris, casings, or damage from the organisms.
Can I visit the taxidermy studio just to browse? +
We are a private art studio, not a storefront. This means we are available by appointment only. Please email us to make an appointment if you're in need of a rental, purchase, or for dropoff/pickup. We do participate in Greenpoint Open Studios and have the studio open to the public about twice a year for those wanting to come browse and see the space. The best way to be notifiied of these happenings is to follow us on our Instagram and Facebook pages.
What is ethical taxidermy? +
Ethics are related to morals and principles, so everyone's ethics are different. The term ethical taxidermy is generally used to imply that it doesn't involve hunting or trophy taxidermy, or that animals are not harmed or killed for the sole purpose of taxidermy.
What is anthropomorphic taxidermy? +
Anthropomorphic taxidermy is taxidermy that appears to have human characteristics, props, posing, or activities. For example, a mouse wearing a top hat and holding a tea cup would be considered anthropomorphic taxidermy. All of our taxidermy classes welcome you to anthropomorphize your creation if you so choose: A select amount of props are always provided free of charge by the class instructor, and students are encouraged to bring their own props if they like, though a traditional, au natural animal is certainly never frowned upon.
How did you get into this? +
The short answer is that I was a collector turned maker. I would collect taxidermy pieces from flea markets, garage sales, vintage shops, etc. Being in my early twenties, often the only pieces I could find and afford would be in need of some TLC. I would research websites, books, videos, magazines, etc., for info on how to clean up an old mount or on how to repair or broken antler or paw. Over the years my hobby turned jobby as I started investing in it more seriously with various schooling, apprenticeships, internships, etc. See the ABOUT page for more info.
How can I get started in making my own taxidermy? +
We recommend you start here at the studio! Any of our 4-hour intro classes are great crash courses in taxidermy, and don't take up too much time or money to find out if it's something you'd like to pursue. Once you've taken some of our group classes, we offer private lessons of various specimens to those interested.
What skills are most helpful in taxidermy? +
Taxidermy often utilizes many crafts: sculpture, carpentry, woodworking, tanning, molding and casting, sewing, upholstery, painting, and more, blending traditional fabrication and artistic skill sets.
Can I interview you for my homework / class / school coursework? +
We get emailed about this quite a lot, thank you for your interest in what we do! We welcome all press inquiries from legitimate media outlets. Unfortunately, we don't have time to help students with assignments that will not appear in the media. You can email us with questions and we will try to have someone get back to you if our time allows, but the nature of our work means we are not at the computer much. You are welcome to use any of the info and images on our site in your coursework, as long as we are properly quoted and credited. Text can be attributed to Amber Maykut. All photos are by Sheila Barabad. Feel free to send us your paper or article, we'd love to see it!
Can I intern / apprentice / volunteer at the taxidermy studio? +
Thank you to everyone who reaches out asking to help us! We recommend you take some classes at the studio to become familiar with us and the space. Then, if you'd like to get more involved, you can let us know and we'll keep you in mind in the event we need people. You can also follow us on our Instagram, Facebook, and Email list to get the most up-to-date announcements, including when we are looking for help.
Can you come teach a class in my city? +
Perhaps! Use our Contact page to reach out to us.
Where is my order? Is my piece ready yet? I need a rental for a production! I need to talk to you ASAP! What should I do? +
If you are having a taxidermy emergency, hang up and dial 911. Or, please be patient, grasshopper. Our fastest point of contact is EMAIL or using our CONTACT page, however, unlike a desk job, the nature of taxidermy work does not lend itself to being on the phone or computer regularly. Often we have gloves on and are doing very intricate, messy, or involved work on or off-site. We will get back to you as soon as we can during business hours.