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What They Do

Insider Info

Taxidermy involves the removal of the natural skin from animals in order to place it over an artificial form. That creates a life-like representation for permanent display. The word is Greek, derived from: taxis (movement) and derma (skin).

Some taxidermists work in private practice, doing custom reproductions for clients. They're also hired by museums and educational institutions to mount permanent displays (sometimes known as dioramas) and movable (traveling) displays.

A fully trained taxidermist is a multi-skilled craftsperson knowledgeable in carpentry, woodworking, tanning, molding and casting. Equally important are artistic skills -- many jobs require sculpting, painting and drawing abilities.

Vigorous conservation efforts to preserve wildlife have placed special limitations on the transportation and handling of various species. Maryland-based taxidermist Stephanie Lee is state and federally licensed to receive migratory birds, including raptors and other protected species, to be mounted for nature centers and schools.

At a Glance

Stuff and display animal pelts

  • You could work for museums or in private practice
  • You have to know carpentry, woodworking, tanning, molding and casting
  • Education: books, videos, workshops and an apprenticeship