"...But I laugh in his face as he noses me out at the wire."
These were the words that were found on a crumpled piece of paper in Carl Akeley's wallet after he died 78 years ago this very day on Mt.Mikeno in Central Africa. Every year this time I feel as if the cable gram has just came to me personally about the passing of this genius taxidermist. Today I'll walk through the Afican Hall in the American Museum of Natural History and pay my respects to a man who has impacted our industry like no one before or after him has. I like to just sit there and still imagine the awesome work that was done by Akeley and the men he left behind more like sons than colleagues. It used to be that my prayers and wishes were for Akeley himself. Now I seem to hope and pray that these elephants and other dioramas, especially the gorilla group, will never be torn apart, scrapped, or replaced by what the modern naturalists call new age museum exhibition. As the years go by, we as taxidermists are losing our heritage, our history and our way of life to a generation of political fanatics. These are the things that Akeley insured us against about Africa's wildlife. If we don't start soon to preserve our own interests with the same fervor Akeley preserved Africa in Chicago and New York with, we too will soon see the scrap pile someday, only sooner than we think. Do this old Italian kid a favor, will you? Look up at the stars tonight and just think about Carl Akeley a time or two. Penelope Bodry Sanders found his bones scattered on the jungle floor a few years ago. We as an industry could put back the flesh to those bones if only with his memory, just like Akeley put clay on his models, and keep this man with us once more until we ourselves turn to bones. Thank you, Mr. Akeley, whereever you are...Bravo!
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Hats Off,Heads Down,Thank You!