A taxing job

• Teori Shannon with some of his tiny taxidermy. Photo by Jenny D’Anger.

TAXIDERMIST Teori Shannon arrives for our interview at a Fremantle cafe with tiny jars of embalmed animals.

There’s a baby stimson’s python, deep-water hermit crab eggs and the tiny skeleton of a transparent mouse.

Years volunteering at Native Arc wildlife rescue and Kanyana wildlife rehabilitation centre, ignited a passion for all creatures great and small – and an interest in taxidermy.

“It started my curiosity,” Mr Shannon says.

He’s keen to educate others about WA’s native animals and birds – dead or alive.

It’s not a job for the faint-hearted, but “necropsy parties” at Kanyana are vital for research.

“We’d open them up to see what caused their death.”

His taxidermy skills are sought after, and he was asked by Waneroo Museum to restore a deteriorating lion pelt.

“It came from Bullen’s Circus and hadn’t been tanned properly.

“I cleaned it up and gave it back to them.”

A road kill kangaroo was preserved for a movie company.

“To simulate it had just been speared. And I was a shark dentist for Fremantle museum Planet Shark, who had teeth missing.”

All the animals he worked on died from natural causes, and the taxidermy business is so tightly regulated a licence is required to work on road kill.

Mr Shannon, who works at Fremantle’s Shipwreck Museum, is also passionate about Australian insects, many of which he keeps as pets at his home, until they die of natural causes.

“A male stick insect lives for about six months and a female about 18.”

His workshops at Fremantle’s Paper Bird’s Inkling Arts Space, attract a variety of people keen to learn the craft.

“We had a vegetarian; she was gagging but keen to learn,” Mr Shannon says.

His Nature Club Living Species workshops, designed for seven to 18 years olds, are also popular, selling out quickly.

For more information on workshops in the new year go to facebook.com/preserving4thefuture/

by JENNY D’ANGER

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