Freeze-Drying, the Latest in Pet Taxidermy
Unlike traditional or conventional taxidermy in which the only real parts of the animal used are the skin, feathers, scales, and antlers-if any, freeze-drying preserves its entire body. This extremely specialized form of animal preservation has been around for at least three decades, but has only recently been in vogue. It requires large, costly freeze-drying equipment, which gobbles up tremendous amounts of electricity, and taxidermists who are careful, precise, and deliberate with their work. It does, however, produce a more stable and lifelike specimen.
The animal’s fatty tissues and innards are removed. Then with the aid of a custom-built framework, it is positioned in a natural posture and placed into the freeze-drying chamber. The temperature is lowered below a particular level so the moisture in the animal’s body could freeze. Once this occurs, heating units on the machine activate to convert the frozen matter into gas. Next, a vacuum pump lowers the atmospheric pressure by pushing the air out of the chamber unto an external freezing coil where it condenses into ice. This lengthy process called sublimation continues until the animal’s body is completely dry. If the process is impeded, especially sped up, it could damage the specimen’s integrity. So it must be checked frequently.
After sublimation, additional cosmetics may be performed to help authenticate the animal’s features for instance, replacing its real eyes with artificial ones. To transport the specimen, it is usually sealed in a moisture-free packaging made from some type of oxygen-absorbing material such as calcium oxide.
According to the article, “Freeze-Dried Pets Comfort Grieving Owners” for the website, www.yahoonews.com, interviewee Anthony Eddy stated that the process takes months to a year to complete, depending on the size of the specimen. Eddy said his company, Anthony Eddy Wildlife Studio, freeze-dries up to 200 pets annually. His website claims the company to be largest in North America and a leader in the technology. Only a handful of taxidermists specialize in this form of animal preservation.
Though some people think it is a waste of good money, there are obviously owners who refuse to part with their beloved animal even after its demise. In fact, the Yahoo article mentioned that the bond between owner and pet can be so strong; many request their preserved pets be buried with them. With such limited number of freeze-drying specialists available as well as the expense, if it is your desire to preserve your precious pet dog, cat, gerbil, chicken or alligator via this process, it is vitally important you do your homework to find a taxidermist who has the skill, experience, right equipment, and is perhaps empathetic.
To give you an idea of the costs, the price list from the website of Perpetual Pet (www.perpetualpet,net), another company specializing in freeze-dry taxidermy is in the table.
60.00 each additional pound or part thereof
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