As a dedicated conservationist and an avid taxidermist, Theodore Roosevelt both saved and stuffed animals. Mark Twain, one of Roosevelt’s biggest critics, thought this made the president a hypocrite.
But the two practices can coexist, says Michael Novacek, the senior vice president, provost of science, and curator of paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. Marrying taxidermy with conservation, he says, can preserve nature’s legacy.
We spoke with Novacek about mitigating the so-called sixth extinction as it threatens to wipe out thousands of species. Unless we act swiftly and effectively, Novacek says, the museum’s animal replicas will be the closest thing we have to their living cousins.
What we’re doing is representing animals in their natural environment. So for people