Freeze Drying and Taxidermy

freeze drying for taxidermy


First rising in mass-market popularity in the Victorian era, taxidermy is a preservation art form, which often divides opinion on appeal and level of taste. However, with modern preservation processes, taxidermy is being appreciated by a whole new section of consumers. In this article, we’ll be exploring the freeze-dry taxidermy process as well as to whom this method may appeal.

How does freeze drying work?

Freeze drying is a method of preservation which uses a process known as ‘lyophilization’ to extract moisture from a frozen specimen, using a high pressure vacuum. Freeze drying preserves items by removing their moisture content, typically upwards of 90%; thus creating an environment where spoiling bacteria cannot thrive.

Who typically chooses freeze-dried taxidermy?
The largest group of consumers currently using freeze drying to preserve their specimens are game hunters. Also the most common clients in traditional taxidermy, hunters are now often opting to freeze dry their trophies due to the high-quality result it can often yield, particularly in regard to marine life, such as fish or crocodiles.

The second and most quickly growing consumer group to choose this method of taxidermy are recently bereaved pet owners. Animals ranging from dogs and cats to even birds and lizards can be preserved, bringing owners their continued companionship even after death.

Freeze Drying vs.Traditional Taxidermy
One of the biggest reasons why consumers are turning to freeze-dried taxidermy over more traditional taxidermy practices is the amazingly lifelike results that freeze drying can produce. Gone are the glassy, dead eyes or stiff unnatural posing. Instead, pets and trophies look exactly as they did when alive, bringing comfort to their owners or pride for serious game hunters.

Freeze drying also constitutes a less invasive process. In standard taxidermy, a specimen’s hide is first removed then tanned and finally stitched over a handmade mount, often resulting in unnatural posing and visible stitches, as previously mentioned. When a specimen is freeze-dried, it is simply posed in a natural position and then preserved. This often puts a pet owner’s minds at ease, by knowing that their beloved friend isn’t being cut into in any way.

The Benefits of Freeze Drying Specimens
Aside from the startling realism and the lack of invasive procedure, freeze drying, in regards to taxidermy, boasts even more benefits when compared to other preservation methods. The risk of shrinkage within a specimen, for example, is greatly reduced. Freeze drying preserves the original structure of the chosen pet or trophy, which in turn preserves the color, size, and the unique features of the animal, allowing for an accurate representation of specimen when alive, which is most beneficial if preservation is occuring for educational or demonstrational purposes.

The long term preservation of the taxidermied item is also much more stable. For amphibious and aquatic creatures, for example, there is a reduced risk of cracking over time. Also, as bacteria is not able to form inside the specimen, there is no worry of internal contamination, which could completely destroy the taxidermied subject from the inside out.

Final Thoughts
While it still may be unsettling for some, taxidermy is a mainstay in animal preservation. Now offering far more than just the display of trophies or educational materials, freeze-dried taxidermy is able to provide comfort and continued companionship to bereaved pet owners, reuniting them with their lost friend in a form more real than ever seen before.