Friday, December 09, 2005

Ornithorhynchus anatinus

Taxidermized Monotremata..

A tender-looking platypus..

In Nîmes this blogger of yours also indulged in his passion for stuffed animals by visiting the local Natural History Museum. Now, the Honourable Reader might have some legitimate or well justified reservations against naturalizing the corpses of mammals and other animals.. but what about extremely rare species that one has fantasized about but never actually seen? Difficult argument, I know.. How can one explain the sheer pleasure of possessing the hard to find chromes of a platypus or of a echidna for a Natural Sciences Class project in High School, in the early 70's? How can one share the tenderness, yes tenderness, one has felt for these strange chimera, part-mammal, part-reptile, part-bird?
I was strolling around the XIX century-scented rooms of the Museum, old varnished wood display cabinets one after the other, when I found a timid platypus. Euphoria! Jubilation!
(I think I can tell you a secret here. A mentally sound adult can "talk" to a stuffed animal in much the same way a primary school boy talks to his teddybear. (Ysmailov, my stuffed penguin being a case in point) . The platypus in the Nîmes museum stroke a cord in the heart of this visitor. From the severely restricted ecosystems in Australia and New Guinea where the Ornithorhynchidae strive to a backwater town in Provence.. From a XIX Century scientific exploring mission to a contemporary fate in a forgotten display room.. What a Journey! .. What a Destiny! )

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