Love-stuffed: Grieving pet owners turn to taxidermy – Pakistan

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Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon sees his craft as both an art and an essential means of consoling those who are suffering.

Carefully preserving an animal takes patience and attention to detail – a luxury Jahangir Khan Jadoon says he doesn’t always have when a grieving pet owner rushes into his workshop.

“Sometimes an emotional customer brings their dead animal with tears in their eyes saying, ‘I can’t even live a night without him,'” said the taxidermist. AFP from his studio near Lahore.

Surrounded by leopards, deer, parrots and stuffed cats, Jadoon sees his craft as both an art and an essential means of consoling those in pain.

Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon prepares to work on a stuffed peacock in his workshop in Lahore. – AFP

Some animals can take days to preserve themselves properly while others take weeks, depending on the size and peculiarities of the animal.

The skin is first carefully removed, washed, and then exposed to the sun.

The animals are then stuffed and carefully sown together while their eyes are replaced with glass balls.

Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon (left) and Professor Arshad Javid (right), who heads the Department of Wildlife and Ecology at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, stand next to a lion in plush at the Pattoki Taxidermy Zoological Museum, Kasur. – AFP

But there are times, Jadoon admits, when he only has a few hours to comfort a distressed client, which makes the delicate process more difficult.

“Someone with a parrot or a cat will come and ask us to save the animal as soon as possible. They say: do it now. So in such cases we have to apply additional chemicals. Even then, it can take hours, ”he adds.

Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon holds an artificial eye on a stuffed baby tiger in his Lahore workshop. – AFP

Over the years, Jadoon has seen a wide range of species introduced to his workshop, from rare leopards to a cassowary bird that has lived in a Pakistani zoo for decades.

“I learned this skill from my ancestors. My grandfather started it in 1918 after a deer died in the Lahore Zoo, ”Jadoon says. AFP, saying he’s also stuffed his fair share of animals that simply serve as decorations for fancy houses.

Hafiz Mohammad Fahim shows his family’s pet peacock, stuffed after his death after living with the family for seven years, in Lahore. – AFP

“Why is it not moving? “

A growing taste among the Pakistani elite for exotic animals – especially the big cats seen as symbols of wealth and power – has also permeated his work.

“Most people prefer a cat or a dog, a parrot or a peacock as a pet. But nowadays there is a new trend in raising lions, ”says Jadoon.

Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon works on a stuffed bird in his workshop in Lahore. – AFP

He helped establish a collection in a university museum, where those who study ecology and conservation can learn about the delicate trade.

“This type of museum provides an opportunity for students,” said Arshad Javid, who heads the Department of Wildlife and Ecology at Lahore University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences.

Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon works on a stuffed peacock in Lahore. – AFP

“They can see them here, they can identify the difference between species. But dealing with a pet and its owners is another matter and involves more than just a thorough understanding of the art of taxidermy.

Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon holds a stuffed bird in his workshop in Lahore. – AFP

The act of preserving a pet can be cathartic for its owners, but it is not always the panacea for dealing with desperation.

A worker stands next to a stuffed lion at the Pattoki Taxidermy Zoological Museum, Kasur. – AFP

Hafiz Mohammad Fahim decided to stuff his family’s pet peacock after his sudden death after seven years of bringing joy to his children.

The peacock now serves as a “memorial” even though its children are no longer able to interact with it.

“My children had an attachment with him,” said Fahim. “Now they are sad and ask why this is not moving. “

Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon works on a stuffed cassowary bird (L) in his workshop in Lahore. – AFP

Header image: Taxidermist Jahangir Khan Jadoon (left) and Professor Arshad Javid (right), who heads the Department of Wildlife and Ecology at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, stand next to a stuffed lion at the Pattoki Taxidermy Zoological Museum, Kasur. – AFP



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