Mickey Alice Kwapis

taxidermy & craft

"WHAT'S IN YOUR FREEZER?"

It’s a question I get asked a lot, and it’s one I looooove to answer. It starts lots of interesting conversations, not just about taxidermy but about the environment, the law, and responsibility. So what’s in there?

Everything is wrapped in thick plastic or two layers of regular bags to prevent freezer burn.

Everything is wrapped in thick plastic or two layers of regular bags to prevent freezer burn.

Twenty-one (yep, you read that right) hedgehogs - they came from a breeder in the area and died of old age. They’re in pretty rough shape but I’m slowly working through them. Four goats and a sheep -all are less than three days old and were stillborn or got sick early on. This happens a lot. A baby weasel - this one, Eric bought for me as a special gift. It came from the same place where I got my next specimens: twelve baby skunks. In some states, if you use Havahart (live, humane) traps to remove critters, it’s actually illegal to transport them and release them. They HAVE to be euthanized. That’s the case here - the city had to put them down, and they ended up here. It breaks my heart, but at least they get a new life. There are also nine rabbits and seven rats that came from various pet stores, a coyote that was another unfortunate victim of catch-and-release being outlawed, a few unidentifiable raw skulls that need cleaning, and the last things - three fetal kittens and a stillborn puppy, needless victims of the non-spaying epidemic our country is suffering from. PLEASE spay and neuter your pets!

People envision that taxidermists glorify death, but in reality what I love most about my job is bringing these creatures back to life. I don’t create trophies for people that kill for sport, and I don’t support senseless killing of animals for fun. I enjoy educating the public, growing as an artist, learning about anatomy, and I’m always taking donations so long as they are legal and the donor knows the origin of the animal.

I hope this has brought a little bit of insight to the general public about my attitudes surrounding death. Death certainly isn’t "fun" to deal with, but I try to make something beautiful out of something bleak every single day.

Mickey Alice Kwapis is a Chicago-based taxidermist, jeweler, and person who does a lot of stuff. All site content ©2011-2017 Mickey Alice Kwapis and Niche Lab LLC. Questions? Use the contact form.