“The Breathless Zoo” by Rachel Poliquin

Beauty in the beast.

NUVO Magazine: The Breathless Zoo

©Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution.

Taxidermy had its peak in the 19th century, when exotic curiosities led to the widespread creation of preserved beasts. Today, when a click of a mouse or a flick of a remote brings the animal kingdom to life in ways previously impossible, the ethics of the practice are in question. In The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing, author Rachel Poliquin comments on the human need to find meaning in the natural world. She suggests seven primary motives for creating taxidermy, which constitute the seven chapters of the book, each interspersed with striking full-colour images. Poliquin traces a chronology from the beginnings of taxidermy in the 16th century to contemporary examples, from natural history specimens to immortalized pets.

Photo ©Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution.