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Getting Stuffed: An investigation into marked taxidermy specimens

Annemieke Hendriks1

1Department of Conservation, 18/32 Manners Street, Wellington Central 6011

Taxidermy specimens held in museums provide an opportunity for researchers to investigate questions on specimens representing in a moment in time. Insights can be drawn from comparisons spanning decades or centuries – a genuine time travel opportunity! Marked individuals (such as banded birds) can be especially valuable for research, providing additional context to that specimen’s life history. While many museums added extensively to their collections during the Victorian era, this fascination with taxidermy and donating bird specimens has dwindled world-wide. This investigation considered collection trends and specimen traits in Te Papa’s banded taxidermy bird collection. Such insights are useful in understanding collection history, and opportunities for comprehensive avian research and reporting. If every band tells the story of an individual bird, then a museum is a library of data waiting to be discovered! In the process of ‘getting stuffed’, the stories of these birds will continue to contribute to our knowledge well into the future.