2013 World Taxidermy Championships

If you are in Springfield, Illinois right now, count me incredibly jealous: the 2013 World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships started yesterday and run through the weekend. The WTC is the olympic equivalent of competitive animal preparation, and the event offers the sculptors and artists the opportunity to showcase their work, view advancements in taxidermy technology, and appreciate one another’s efforts over the last year.  There are competitions for every division from Youth and Novice, to achievements in Freeze-Drying, and - of course - the Master Division, where the winner is awarded a $4,000 prize, some amazing live-mount eyes by Karl Lange and Tohickon (like the Rolls-Royce of glass-blown, hand-crafted eyes), and the honor of knowing you created the most beautiful taxidermy mount in the world. 

There’s also the honorable Carl Akeley award granted to the sculptor who can best exhibit that, indeed, wildlife taxidermy is a valid form of art, and the practice is still alive and well today. 

About the images:

Lowell Shapley keel-billed toucan won the Carl E. Akeley Award in 2011.

Ken Walker’s panda was awarded Best in Show in the Recreations category - the ‘panda’ is actually comprised of the dyed skins of multiple American black bear specimens, seeing as how giant pandas are protected. 

Dennis Harris - “Air Zebra” Lion and zebra won Best in World at the 2009 WTC.  The lioness is only supported in one area, where her tail touches the arm of the zebra.  If that isn’t an incredible feat in animal engineering, I don’t know what is. 

Karl Lange glass eyes