Anonymous said: hi, im a 13-yr-old who wants to do bone collecting, but my mom is a huge animal rights person. i mean, so am i, but you can't really do anything if the animal is already dead. i have no issues with handling dead things. any advice for convincing my parents??
Hi Anon! Thanks for the message and kudos to you for your interest in bone collecting!
I think you’ll find that the majority of bone collectors (as well as collectors of pelts, taxidermy, and the like) are supporters of animal rights and conservation. Most of us advocate for responsible pet ownership, donate time and money to conservation and rescue groups around the world, support responsible and respectful hunting practices, and so on. We care about the wild world and admire all aspects of it. You can love and appreciate animals by watching them play and graze in a meadow but I think you can also love and appreciate them by studying and preserving their remains.
I’ve loved animals all of my life. Most of my pets have been rescues and I’ve found homes for scads of others that I’ve encountered over the years. I help turtles and snakes cross roads. If I find a lost bug in the house I’ll carry it outside. I’ve had sick animals cross my path that I was able to save while other more unfortunate ones I was at least able to give a peaceful death. I much prefer live animals to dead ones but I do have a great respect and appreciation for both.
Personally I love getting to take something that would so often be pulverized on a roadside, turn to dust out in a field, or thrown in the garbage, clean it up, and either add it to my own collection*, make art out of it, or pass it on to someone else that will do the same. It’s very rewarding and I see it as a way of paying respect to the animal by keeping it from going to waste.
I think one of the most helpful ways to introduce others to this idea is to use museums as references. Pretty much everyone has been to some sort of museum before. Museums around the world have millions of specimens on display that millions of people study and admire every year. Taxidermy mounts, cleaned skulls and articulated skeletons, parts and whole creatures preserved in jars. But how do those specimens get there? Does someone just wave a wand and make them appear? Or do people spend thousands of hours working to collect, clean, and create those amazing displays for others to study and enjoy?
Even if you have no plans of working for a museum someday, a personal collection is a similar principle. Even if it is only for your own enjoyment and no one else will ever see it it’s still something that you will appreciate. Some people build model cars and planes or collect comic books. Some people articulate skeletons or collect skulls. And I know people that collect far stranger things than animal bones but so long as you aren’t breaking any laws or hurting yourself or anyone else then I say go for it.
I don’t know that there is any magic combination of words to use to make your folks understand, Anon but maybe by showing them this and introducing them to other collectors’ blogs and the like then maybe they will get a better sense of how you can collect bones as well as be an animal rights person.
I’d like to invite my followers to add their two cents here as well! Make this a Why I Love Animals AND Collect Bones testimonial post.
Best of luck, Anon! I hope you get to start building a wonderful collection very soon!
*Which I have the great joy and privilege of sharing with thousands of people around the world via this blog! I use my skulls as artistic inspiration and reference and many other people do as well. Plus it’s educational! Shows people a side to an animal that they would likely never see otherwise. We get to study how that animal lived and died and I think that’s very important not to mention fascinating!
As for myself, it’s much as you’ve already said - taxidermy work is as much about the respect and appreciation of the creature as it is about enjoying the process and beauty of the final piece. I personally have deep issues with the ‘waste’ that comes from so many hunters that either only want the ‘steaks’, or even just trophy hunt… and then the rest of that beautiful, glorious animal is then thrown out. Just the mere thought of that sickens me.
Beyond that… when I encounter the remains of any creature, it gives me pause and I often find my thoughts wander while I ‘work’ on it. I consider the animal, its life, and how it may have come to this end. I look for ways that I can use these bits of fur and bone to portray this creature - whatever it may be - as the interesting, if not beautiful, creature that it was in life, so that perhaps others might see what I see within them. Life - all life - has value, and perhaps through my effort just one more person can learn this lesson, too.