Greener BeeGreen HolidaysTaxidermist’s daughter and her inheritance of feathers, fur and fins

Posted

June 20, 2017 10:03:46

A woman standing in a doorway holding a wooden shelf with a stuffed goanna attached to it.
Photo:

Pamela Green moves a specimen into her new home near Bathurst. (ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce)

Pamela Green sees nothing unusual about her housemates, from a stuffed fox and eagle in the lounge room, pickled animals on the bookshelf and skulls on the walls.

She’s simply preserving the memory of her nature-loving father who enjoyed the hobby of taxidermy for more than 60 years.

“My dad always called it stuffed with life,” Ms Green said.

Now her biggest problem is to fit the hundreds, if not thousands of specimens into her new home in the Bathurst district of central west New South Wales.

Close up of a stuffed possum on a stand and a stuffed glider hanging from a branch
Photo:

A stuffed possum and glider are part of the extensive taxidermy collection Pamela Green inherited. (ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce)

Six decades of taxidermy

The taxidermy collection started by Pamela Green’s father, Allan Green, began in 1925 when the then 15-year-old was walking on Sydney’s Manly Beach and he found a dead fairy penguin.

“He thought ‘How awful; this beautiful thing is dead’, so he bought a taxidermy book and that was his first specimen,” Ms Green said.

Black and white photograph of a man with a gun over his shoulder holding a string of dead birds
Photo:

Photograph of amateur taxidermist, Allan Green, as a young man with dead birds he had killed or found. Circa 1930s. (ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce)

Taxidermy was a life-long hobby for her “unusual” father, who worked as a dye-maker.

As well as stuffed animals, birds and reptiles, there are bugs in old stock cube jars, plaster moulds of fish and countless shells and crustaceans.

Mr Green fashioned his own glass display cases out of old aquariums to show his collection.

Growing up with seven siblings, Ms Green said family holidays always involved collecting souvenirs with a difference.

“Anywhere we went there was always roadkill and we always took plastic bags or an item we could wrap it up in,” Ms Green explained.

Although illegal to do so today, Mr Green stuffed and preserved things he found or caught as well as those given to him by native bird and animal collectors.

A freezer full of creatures

Many of the ‘finds’ waiting for taxidermy were kept in the family freezer and Ms Green said her long-suffering mother often longed to have her fridge free of feathers, fur and fins.

However she said her mother would always cook whatever her father brought home and he would eat it, just like [British adventurer and survival expert], Bear Grylls.

Ms Green said the family did not have a lot of money but her childhood was spent helping her father with his taxidermy or learning about nature looking down a microscope.

“We didn’t have a problem with wet days,” she laughed.

A woman holding stuffed tiny birds on a branch on a stand with other specimens under glass in the background
Photo:

The guest bedroom in Pamela Green’s house is filled with birds from her father’s taxidermy collection. (ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce)

Traditional method of taxidermy

Ms Green said instead of using the more modern method of freeze-drying specimens with tissue intact, her father performed traditional taxidermy by removing the body parts and leaving only the bones.

“You have to turn the legs inside out to take all the meat off and with a bird you have to turn the head past the neck to take all the meat off them and then you have to pass it back through the neck which is a skill,” Ms Green said.

She said her father also taught that skill to her daughter, Joanne, because she “had a strong stomach”.

An older man and a young woman sitting at a table with bits of flesh on it.
Photo:

Amateur taxidermist, Allan Green, teaching the art to his granddaughter, Joanne Fahey, circa 1970s. (ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce)

The animals, birds and fish in the collection all tell a story. For instance there is a glider possum that Ms Green said was found “squashed flat”, perhaps by a motorbike, and her father had to rebuild the tiny skeleton.

Another is a koala that was one of seven that died at a Sydney wildlife sanctuary due to paint fumes and the attending vet asked Mr Green to stuff one for his surgery and gave the rest to the amateur taxidermist.

“So my father did this young fellow and the others he disposed of, probably in the backyard, and there’s another baby one, pickled in a jar, still under my house,” Ms Green said.

A woman walking with a cup of tea and plate of biscuits into a room surrounded by skeletons and stuffed animals
Photo:

Pamela Green’s lounge room is filled with specimens from her father’s taxidermy, shell and skeleton collection. (ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce)

Curious not creepy

She said she never found it strange or creepy to live with lots of dead things.

“We just assumed ‘Why didn’t everyone have things like this?’ [but] as I got older I learnt it wasn’t quite so,” Ms Green said.

Although Allan Green carefully wrote descriptions and stuck them to all the items in the taxidermy collection there is no full catalogue or count of how vast it is.

For Ms Green its real value is that it speaks of her father and his enduring curiosity about all creatures and how he passed that love for nature onto his children and grandchildren.

“No wonder Dad was upset when he went because he hadn’t done enough and we were upset because he had so much more to give; so much more to teach us,” she said.

Close up of a stuffed budgie and squirrel
Photo:

A stuffed pet budgie is among Allan Green’s taxidermy collection which has been inherited by his daughter, Pamela. (ABC Central West: Melanie Pearce)

Topics:

animals-and-nature,

regional,

animal-science,

offbeat,

history,

family,

bathurst-2795


Contact Melanie Pearce



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Article source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-20/taxidermists-daughter-and-inheritance-of-feathers-fins-and-fur/8616134


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