Faux Taxidermy: Is the Real Deal Too Much?

    There is your regular taxidermy and then, there is faux taxidermy.

    Let us first define what “faux” means. Merriam and Webster state that it is an imitation; Dictionary.com says that it is artificial or fake. Both dictionaries note that the word is derived from the old French term, “fals,” or false in modern-day terms.

    With this in mind, are we dealing with fake taxidermy when referring to not-real taxidermy?

    Apparently not. While indeed, faux taxidermy -- or white faux taxidermy which connotes the usual white-colored resin used for many faux animal heads -- does not employ the use of hide from an actual deceased animal, it is a more-than-ample representation of the animal as it actually looks like in its habitat.

    Non-authentic taxidermy is primarily art. It challenges the practitioner to be more adept at capturing the finer details of an animal, considering that there is no organic specimen to base the animal’s features from. The practitioner has to rely on pictures and anatomy books to come up with non-traditional taxidermy heads that could compete with the actual taxidermy animals and even the living and breathing versions.


    How It Started

    There is not much to go on as to where and when this sort of taxidermy started. However, the emergence of animal rights groups, as well as the strengthening of laws against poaching wildlife, have been said to have led to the rise of this more recent fad in taxidermy.

    Prior to this, many large taxidermy specimens were animals who, due to overhunting and poaching, have dwindled in number. With more and more animals landing in the endangered species list, it apparently became natural for the next trend in taxidermy to do away with real fur and to replace these with sculpted or molded versions of the animals.

    Just like any sort of art form, people have found many different ways to create new forms of taxidermy. Now, they take away the part of animal preservation and using natural materials to recreate the form of an animal.

    What They’re Made of

    The most elaborate non-traditional taxidermy pieces are the white kind, primarily because the materials used for them are either white resin or ceramics. A resin-based faux taxidermy head is much lighter and more resistant to breakage compared to the one made from ceramics or porcelain.

    However, when it comes to a more polished and longer-lasting color and finish, one cannot go wrong with a faux taxidermy deer head made out of porcelain.

    There are still other faux taxidermy mounts and pieces that employ the use of a variety of raw materials. Wood is another favorite material used. Some DIY projects even use wire, knits, or even papier maché and Lego for their finished products.

    A company in Virginia called Cardboard Safari took a faux taxidermy head to another level by using carefully-cut cardboard panels glued together to create beautiful three-dimensional animal mounts. They have a wide range of cardboard animal mounts to choose from, and they note that their pieces would make for wonderful “eco gifts.”

    Favorite Animal Subjects

    Taking the lead among animal favorites for faux taxidermy is the deer. A faux deer head could go as high as $90, depending on the make and the details on it. Some faux taxidermy deer head mounts are sometimes embellished with faux antlers dipped in bronze, metal alloys, or even glitter.

    Other favorite animal subjects for fake taxidermy include moose, elephants, and even mythological creatures like unicorns and dragons.

    The common denominator among these animal favorites especially the faux taxidermy deer heads is the fact that they all bear horns. These horns are not only viewed as the special assets of the animal mounts that own them; they have a utilitarian purpose, as well.

    Why Faked Taxidermy instead of the Real Thing?

    Many home-owners prefer faux taxidermy over the regular taxidermy for the following reasons:

    • As mentioned earlier, horns on animals usually used as non-traditional taxidermy pieces are not just ornamental but useful. These horns can be used as artsy alternatives to the usual hooks or coat-and-hat hangers. Some of the more affluent even use them as holders for their jewelry.
    • If in movies, they provide a notification in the credits that no animals were harmed in it, the same is true with faux taxidermy -- there were no actual animals used in the creation of the mounts.
    • Sometimes, a fake deer head done through new-trend taxidermy can look more lifelike and more anatomically correct than a deer head mount done via standard taxidermy.
    • A faux taxidermist has an artistic license to further beautify an animal’s features through his work. A lion’s mane can be depicted as longer and more lustrous than usual. An elephant’s head can be shown with perfect tusks despite the common knowledge that in the wild, these glorious beasts’ tusks are broken off by enterprising poachers. Others have broken-off or nicked tusks from engaging in battles for supremacy or survival.


    • Modern, ethical taxidermy is not for those without a hint of imagination. There are a variety of ways and a whole spectrum of materials that can be used to depict an animal in all its glory.
    • Wildlife conservation efforts have been less tedious with the emergence of faux taxidermy.
    • Hunting for wild animals if only to turn them into living room trophies through standard taxidermy is no longer the norm. More people begin to understand that killing them for sport has become passé, considering that they can be more appreciated alive and thriving in their natural habitats.
    • This new type of taxidermy is actually helping the ecosystem in regaining its balance. With faux taxidermists getting much better at their craft, it becomes almost absurd to hunt for exotic species of animals when these people could skillfully render them in the most artistic way possible without any blood being shed.

    The Bad Points

    So far, the only “bad” aspect of this kind of taxidermy lies in the fact that it does not involve skinning a recently-deceased animal. For those wanting to have the “real deal,” the best place to find it is in an animal sanctuary where animals roam alive and free. That is the better alternative to finding their mounted heads staring soullessly through glass eyes at you in a living room.

    You can breathe more life into your living spaces with majestic animals made through non-traditional taxidermy. They will not only be sights to behold -- they will also be beautiful testaments to the actual animals they are depicting.

    The One True Taxidermy?

    As an art form, has this type of taxidermy transcended the bounds of definition? It does adhere to the premise of “animal form” but without the premise of an actual animal. Everything is up for change--from the material, subject, process and finishing.

    Who is to say that any mounted animal interpreted in whatever form is not taxidermy? Does the hunting and killing have to be prerequisites or is it all in the mind of the artist?

    Is this type of taxidermy simply an expansion of the process? What do you think? Does white resin or paper or wire make it any less an animal form? What about traditional taxidermy? Is it indeed old and passe?

    What do you think?


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