Among the millions of pieces of anonymous taxidermy throughout the world, some are special. Some have names. Some are heroes.
Be they pigeon, horse, or hippo, these animals performed acts of bravery, inspiration, and sacrifice during their often short lives. (At least through the lens of human morality — it’s hard to say what a hippo thinks of as brave.) Too beloved to be let go, too honorable to be forgotten, these animals were instead memorialized. Skinned and stuffed, they have been turned into preserved monuments to themselves, icons of their heroic deeds. In doing so they have become not just another museum piece, but something greater. They have turned into Heroes of Taxidermy.
We have previously catalogued these Heroes in Taxidermy, and amassed many more such examples since. However, we felt there was yet a further way to honor these beasts of bravery. With this Sunday’s Atlas Obscura event dedicated to “Taxidermy Gone Wrong,” we decided tp honor some “taxidermy gone right” in the form of a collectable Heroes in Taxidermy postcard series. We have started with five postcards.
All dogs go to heaven, but some show up with more medals. To these Heroes in Taxidermy, we salute you.
P.S. If you mail us an awesome postcard of your curious travels to Atlas Obscura, 61 Greenpoint Ave #302, Brooklyn, NY 11222, we will send you back one of these very special limited-edition heroes of taxidermy postcard for free. (Be sure to include a return address!)
Stubby, the bravest dog of World War I, started his military career as a stray who wandered onto Yale Field, and became the mascot of the 102 Infantry 26th Yankee Division. Yet unlike most mascots, Stubby, a pit bull mix named for his short tail, actually went to war and experienced 17 major battles on the Western Front. More on Stubby here.
Image Public Domain, design by Michelle Enemark.
No one knows why Huberta started walking south in 1928. Some believed that she was looking for a lost mate, others that she was fleeing the killing of a parent, while still others thought she was making a pilgrimage to the places of her ancestors, where hippos had ceased to tread. No matter the reason, she kept walking until 1931, gathering more and more international attention and local love for the roaming hippo. More on Huberta here.
On June 25, 1876, the five companies of the US 7th Cavalry under the command of Gen. George Armstrong Custer were annihilated by a force of Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The following day, troops from the remaining companies of the 7th Cavalry discovered the carnage — 210 men lay dead, including their commander, along with dozens of horses. While no US Army soldier survived the engagement, one horse was found alive on the battlefield. More on Comanche here.
Major Charles Whittlesey’s battalion had charged through enemy lines in 1918, only to be surrounded by Germans and then battered by artillery from fellow Americans who didn’t know that they were there. They’d sent out two pigeons with desperate messages to stop the friendly fire, but both had been shot down. Only one pigeon was left: Cher Ami. More on Cher Ami here.
Images Creative Commons. Design by Michelle Enemark.
Before Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space, numerous animals gave their lives for science in the often cruel and stressful tests of space flight. The first creatures to survive a 24-hour ordeal orbiting earth in a space craft were two spirited dogs named Belka and Strelka. More on Belka and Strelka here.
We pay our respects, and honor these heroic animals. Keep your eyes peeled for Heroes of Taxidermy: Collectable Postcards Edition Two.