A taxidermist, Selçuk Karaköy, 43, who is living in the northwestern province of Tekirdağ’s Çorlu district, is known for preserving bodies of animals who were hunted legally or died due to natural causes to show them to the next generations.
Stating that his biggest dream is to establish a museum, Karaköy said: “I would like to open a museum in Çorlu, a nature museum with hundreds of taxidermy animals. For example, families come here with their children when the shop door is open. It is very difficult for children to see these animals outside of television.”
Working in this field for the last 24 years, Karaköy said, “In 1996, I got very interested in this job, and as a result of my curiosity, it became my profession.”
Describing that the job is really hard, he said: “If you ask why, you need to know many professions. We are dependent on foreign countries to supply products that we cannot find here such as tongue, teeth and eyes, and also leather and mold making. After arrival, we deal with customs. Then the products are combined, the animals become like this after the skins are completed.”
Noting that the taxidermy of animals is both difficult and a long process, where large mammals and predators take the maximum time, Karaköy said: “For example, the construction of a lion takes more than four months and only a week to stitch after dressing it in the mold.”
“Grizzly bears and bears over 200 kilos take about four months because these have tanning times,” he added.
Underlining that the molding process takes a long time and stands crucial in the making of the taxidermy animal, he said: “The skin must stay on the mold after which we need to sew the animal. The animal should not move in any way. After its ready, we then deliver it to the customer or the units of the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.”
Few people in Turkey
Stating that the number of those engaged in the profession in Turkey is very few, Karaköy said, “But there are many people in the world. If you ask why, hunting is very important in Europe and America, which we call the old world. Let’s call it a serious occupation or a hobby. However, of course, the products obtained need to be filled in some way. So, there are probably hundreds of thousands of taxidermy studios in the world.”
Highlighting that the job of a taxidermist is challenging, he said: “This job requires a lot of patience; I can say that as I put a lot of effort into it. If the taxidermy I do is bad, I do it again. That’s why I do flawless, truly magnificent animals.”
Describing a 26-year-old lion, which Konya’s Karatay Municipality sent for preservation, he said: “We hardly have any chance of finding such a lion in nature, a very large lion with a black mane hair right between his legs. If he had been living in the wild, he would have weighed some 400 kilograms and would be some 1.80 meters high. Since he lived in a zoo, he was 1.60 meters high and weighed 250 kilograms. When he died, they sent it to us for taxidermy.”
Hurriyet Daily News