Taxidermy, Afterlife alive

To seek astonishing wild animal in Myanmar, we need an expert who can tell us where to find them.

Our quest led us to Zoological Garden in Yangon. We had some information about the rarest and the most recent discovered monkey specie that only be visible in Myanmar deep jungle, Snub-nosed monkey.

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The local researcher who found and reported the monkey was working in Yangon.

Our team decided to discover each sections in exhibition of Zoological Garden. Until we’ve reached the Houses Exhibition of Taxidermy, the curator working here took us to the special section in Taxidermy room.

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We found a senior officer who mastered in taxidermy, the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals (especially vertebrates) for display. U Baw Than, the taxidermist uncle.

“If you miss those animal after they died,

come to see them here”

he said in front of stuffed Orangutan. He talked in soothe voice seemed like he loves what he did.

Where did he learn this remarkable skill and why he keeps stuffing those animal.?

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“It all started from my master..” The uncle was recalling his memory.

“In 1964 at the little church in Tanggyi, the padre of the church saw his unfortunate pet died and really wanted to keep its body for educational purpose. So he sent the church’s artist, who are later my master, to study taxidermy technique in India to come back and continue his intention here.”

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U Baw Than told his back story with proud. While listening we could sense his love and dedication. The officer who stayed with us had also heard this story for the first time too.

“When my master came back, he started practicing taxidermy from little creature to the big one. Until there’s no more room for these stuffed animal, the padre had to look for the bigger place for them. All these stuffed animal were moved to Yangon. Then I received a call from the master to help in the zoo. Back then I didn’t understand why we have to do this. Right now I know why the master always told me not to toss this skill away.”

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Now there are only 5 taxidermists in Myanmar. Three base in Zoological Garden Yangon, while two base in Zoological Garden Naypyidaw. The worrying voice of Uncle U Baw Than hinted us something unpleasant. The taxidermy exhibition doesn’t get enough financial support from the authority. This kind of work is not paid well and now skillful taxidermists are trying to move to another field of job. What he keep doing for many years seems to be out of sight from the public and be unable to avoid the closing down.

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Kritshna Foosri :

The Producer of Unhidden Myanmar

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