Archiving the Aardvark

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Image: Mike Peckett

This aardvark is looking decidedly grumpy but this undignified treatment is for his own good!

With scaffolding rapidly filling the Museum, almost all of our specimens have been moved, boxed or wrapped to protect them during our closure year. For many, this is simply to make sure they don’t get a bump or a scratch while all the roof repairs are going on, but for our furry and feathered friends, we have other concerns.

Bethany Palumbo, Conservator of Life Sciences explains:

“As the display cabinets were boxed up for the duration of the renovation, we felt it was important to remove taxidermy specimens that were vulnerable to insect pest attack. Specimens such as birds and mammals have fur and feathers which are very appetising to a variety of small insects, including Webbing Clothes Moth (Tineola bissilliella). These moths can destroy entire specimens in a relatively short time, eating both the fur or feathers and the skin.  If an infestation occurred within a display case, we wouldn’t know about it until it was too late. So, we spent a week removing and safely packing up many display specimens. They now are stored on the upper gallery and are accessible to staff who might want to use them. The conservation department will be documenting the condition of the specimens and will clean them up before they return to display”.

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Image: Mike Peckett

Here, Education Assistant Simone Dogherty (left) is helping Bethany (right), to carry out final preparations before the aardvark joins his companions in the Museum’s storage space. So the aardvark’s neatly wrapped snout and ears will ensure he doesn’t get damaged and the well-sealed bag will guarantee he remains pest-free for the year ahead.

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Image: Mike Peckett

I must also include this lovely photo of a little tenerec getting the VIP treatment for his year in storage.

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Image: Mike Peckett

I look forward to seeing the aardvark and all our other animals back on display and looking their very best (with no nibble marks!) next year.

Rachel Parle, Education Officer

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