Associate professor of anatomy at Mumbai Veterinary College, Santosh Gaikwad, is often called by forest departments, national parks and zoos across India to help preserve rare and exotic birds and animals. He also preserves pets for bereaved owners who refuse to part with them
Meet Santosh Gaikwad, India's only official taxidermist. He is currently awaiting completion of construction for the new Taxidermy Centre in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali
Gaikwad sits with the skull of a dog that has been recovered, treated and retained for “academic purposes” at the Taxidermy Laboratory
He displays a “preserved” turkey specimen. “A lot of time goes into recreating a bird of this size. One needs to first skin the bird properly and then tan it while preserving the feathers at the same time. Matching the natural colours and textures is an arduous task,” he says
Gaikwad prepared an exotic Crowned Crane from Africa for Mumbai's Veermata Jijabai Udyan — the city's only zoo at Byculla. “Exotic birds cannot be captured, retained or displayed according to the law. So, after the taxidermy work is complete, the bird is returned to the Zoo or the National Park that has commissioned the work,” he says.
Shiva, a tiger who died of old age at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai was recreated in full grandeur, and looks menacing even in death. It will be part of the new display to be set up once the Centre is constructed.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.