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International Wildlife Museum The agenda of the International Wildlife Museum

Discussion in 'United States' started by DavidBrown, 5 Apr 2015.

  1. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    Last edited: 6 Apr 2015
  2. groundskeeper24

    groundskeeper24 Well-Known Member

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    It's certainly a contentious subject. Personally, I feel that trophy hunters get a lot of undeserved flack for their exploits. I'm not sure about every single instance, but many of these hunts occur in managed areas and cull animals from populations that are managed as well.

    In the end, the sad truth is that in some parts of the world, the only chance wildlife has to survive the encroachment of habitat destruction is to establish a monetary value to humanity.

    Saltwater crocs in Australia were declining until farms were set up and a skin trade was established. Now they thrive again in the wild. Brown bears have been in decline all over the world. In Romania, under the Ceaucescu regime, they thrived. This happened because the brutal dictator loved to shoot them, and he went to great lengths to ensure that there would be no shortage of bears to hunt, and unlike other regions, they stayed strong.

    It an't pretty, but conservation through commercialization is a practical approach to a serious issue. I'm of the thinking that habitat destruction and human development are a much larger threat to wildlife worldwide by quite a big margin. Hunting is repulsive to many animal lovers and is very easy to demonize, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the wholesale destruction of wild places. If people will pay insane sums of cash to hunt in places where wildlife is under threat from habitat loss, then perhaps local powers that be will do something to ensure that there are always healthy populations of animals to hunt.

    Now, to be clear, I wholeheartedly oppose ivory poaching, whaling, organ farming and other such forms of obviously unsustainable mass-extermination. I also oppose hunting any animal that doesn't possess enough of a population to sustain losing numbers to hunters. I'm talking about managing species and culling animals based on maintaining a strong source gene pool. Use the money hunters pay to support conservation efforts and breathe life into the economies of these nations in order to encourage locals to view wildlife as an economic resource.

    In the end, pictures of people with more money than they know what to do with posing next to dead lions and rhinos will always garner an visceral reaction on social media outlets. People have a right to voice their opinion. Mine is that public ire would be more beneficial if it were directed at corporations and trades that wreak havoc on habitats than it is deriding individual hunters shooting animals for sport. Barbaric as it may be, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the real problem.
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    The museum in question is in my city (Tucson, Arizona), so I suppose I should respond. However, I have never gone through the museum myself. When I first moved here over twenty years ago, I stopped in to pick up a job application and browsed the gift shop (which is outside the paid entry section). Seeing the Safari Club magazine filled with ads on elephant hunts and the like, I immediately decided this was not my kind of place and never stepped foot inside again.

    As much as I dislike trophy hunting, the article is clearly biased and I think the author makes some unfair judgments. Having one misspelling on a plaque does not make an entire museum amateurish. And not being up to date on the IUCN status of animals (penguins) whose listing was changed as recently as 2012 does not make them amateurish either. How many accredited and professional zoos could all of us list with similar (or worse) errors? And describing their entire membership as "endangered species shooters" is almost certainly an unsubstantiated claim.

    The reply that was posted before mine is a well reasoned response and I respect that opinion much more than the opinion of the author of this article.

    However, I still have no plans to ever visit the museum, so I cannot give a firsthand account. There is a regular ZooChatter who did visit on his last trip through Arizona, so maybe your friend and mine Snowleopard would like to chime in here?
     
  4. Buldeo

    Buldeo Well-Known Member

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    Short response: Hunting isn't a sport. There isn't anything "sporting" about putting a bullet in something from fifty yards away. That lion or rhino or elephant wasn't a mutual combatant. To suggest otherwise is both disingenuous and dangerous.

    If trophy hunters truly wanted a sporting atmosphere I would (rightly) wager that they would rather suddenly come up short on membership dues.

    As for the article, I was unaware of this museum's existence so I suppose I should thank The New York Times for that. Otherwise, it felt like a blog post -- the author was preaching to the choir. I came away not knowing anything more about the International Wildlife Museum than when I logged on just now.
     
  5. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I was going to chime in with my two cents but "groundskeeper24" replied with such an impressive post that I refrained from adding my own opinion. Like many zoo nerds I've always been dismayed by the sight of big-game hunters lording over their trophies, but inside the International Wildlife Museum there is the image of a natural history museum far more than a showcase for trophy racks. I'm not sure that I'd ever go back, but seeing at least 110 different species of African hoofstock was a staggering sight that I'll never forget.

    Here is my review from 2011:

    The outside entranceway contains large statues of a lion, cheetah and elk, and directly inside is a scene of a white rhino, common duiker and crested francolin. Further inside is the first room, Insects of the World, and there is a fabulous display of butterflies, moths, gigantic beetles of all sizes, stick insects and live displays of a giant desert hairy scorpion, Sonoran centipede and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

    Introductory Hall – There is an adult wild boar that can be touched, a pair of African leopards perched in a tree, a Family Tree of Mammals chart, an introduction to the art of taxidermy, and then a wide range of mounted animal heads such as an American bison, pronghorn antelope, walrus, zebra, moose, caribou, lynx, bobcat, peccary, North American porcupine, African crested porcupine, warthog, an orca skull, etc.

    Birds – A large ostrich is in the first diorama, followed by glass cases with bird eggs, Coniferous Forest birds, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest birds, Tropical Rain Forest birds and a Curiosity Cabinet & Victorian Style cabinet. Everything from a large Birds of Paradise display, owls, a brown kiwi, a Guianan cock-of-the-rock, a flamingo to a kakapo is represented here.

    Predators and Prey – Turkey vultures grace the entry to this gallery, which is a small room with a few dioramas. A spotted hyena snatching an ostrich’s egg, coyotes looking for mice, a puma chasing a pronghorn, a bobcat swatting a California quail, a gray wolf and an Eastern gray squirrel eyeing each other, gray wolves eating a caribou and a leopard attacking a chacma baboon round out the gallery.

    Wildlife For All (rotating exhibit) – A black bear, bighorn sheep and giant panda are the highlights of a room devoted to conservation efforts around the globe. A bison diorama with a prehistoric bison skull is also impressive.

    Africa’s Deadliest (rotating exhibit) – A lion, hyena, a hippo skull, a Cape buffalo and a Nile crocodile highlight this room.

    Conservation – Heads mounted on the wall include a black rhino, white rhino and Indian rhino, along with a Sumatran rhino skull. A white rhino/secretary bird/bush pig diorama is very well done.

    McElroy Hall – Here are the star attractions for hoofstock fans, although there are many other species on display in a massive, high-ceilinged central room. Golden takins lead the way into the main collection, and then the sight is breathtaking. It is also quite sad to realize that hundreds of mammals had to die to fill the collection, but it is amazing to see what is on display. In the center are the cats, and there is a tiger, lion, two jaguars, leopard, puma, snow leopard, cheetah and lynx. There is also a Nile crocodile here as well.

    On a single huge wall I counted over 110 different species of African hoofstock, and I wonder if some of the taxonomic names are still the same as names have probably changed since the mounted heads were erected. There are at least 7 species of bushbuck, 7-8 duikers, 5 wildebeest, innumerable gazelles, and the museum must have over 90% of all of the African antelopes in existence, as well as a few other treasures on that side of the room such as a black-backed jackal and a saiga antelope.

    Some hoofstock include: zebra duiker, Angolan bush duiker, black duiker, Weyn’s duiker, red duiker, East African bush duiker, western bush duiker and at least a couple of other duikers. There must be 5 different species of springboks, harnessed bushbuck, cape bushbuck, Limpopo bushbuck, Masai bushbuck, Nile bushbuck and maybe a couple more bushbucks. There must be at least 20 species of various goats and sheep, a few different lechwe and everything else that you could imagine.

    There are dioramas all around the big cats in the center of the room, and species either on the wall as mounted heads or as full specimens in side dioramas include: two polar bears, grizzly bear, Eurasian brown bear, Kodiak bear, American black bear, American black bear with glacial color form and sloth bear.

    There are probably at least 120 antelope species in total, several rhinos, at least 5 species of buffalo, muskox, wolves, all sorts of deer (an entire long wall), a giraffe, zebras, and both species of hippo, elephants and at least 5-6 moose heads.

    Sheep & Goats – As if there weren’t enough of these mammals in the preceding room there is a 32-foot high mountain with almost 20 species of goats and sheep in the central part of the gallery. There are surrounding dioramas that include but are not limited to: a red fox, sea otter, Arctic fox, Arctic hare, 4 species of penguins, Spanish ibex, chamois, European mouflon, nyala, steenbok, caracal, European wild boar, muskox, Damara dik-dik, African civet, red deer, cape buffalo, roan antelope, greater kudu, helmeted guineafowl, wild turkey, lion, springhare, aardvark, Cape grysbok, springbok, wolverine, Kodiak bears, etc.

    Arizona by Night – Every kind of mammal that you could imagine that lives in the state of Arizona, all in semi-darkness in this “nocturnal” gallery.

    Bringing Back Wildlife – This gallery features species threatened by extinction that have been brought back from the dead.

    Prehistoric Mammals – This is the smallest but features the two largest animals: a woolly mammoth and a giant deer.

    Overall the International Wildlife Museum is a wonder to behold in terms of the sheer numbers on display. It is located so close to the brilliant Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum that upon entering there is actually a little sign that says: “This is not the Desert Museum”.
     
  6. groundskeeper24

    groundskeeper24 Well-Known Member

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    I've never been to the place and doubt I'd go if I were in the region. I've given m opinion earlier, but will add this: millions of people flock to venerated institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. I've visited all of them more than once. All have massive displays loaded with wildlife taxidermy, endangered and common alike.

    These places have an obviously different agenda than the IWM, but the means to acquiring their specimens was largely the same. At some point, somebody slaughtered lots and lots of live animals for sport in order to mount their dead bodies in museums so we could stare at them. Why no outcry toward these places?

    The means toward getting specimens is identical, the end for the specimens is the same. Is a rosy message about education or conservation all that is required to separate cruelty from justified scientific endeavors/societal benefit?