Cartoon filmmaker’s tryst with taxidermy

By Diep Phan   December 3, 2020 | 05:00 pm GMT+7
Dang Trung Hieu has spent the last 15 years pursuing his passion for mounting animal specimens, and made it his livelihood.
Hieu, 30, has nursed his passion for biology since he was a child. But the art of making animal specimens did not come until his family members encouraged him to create specimens of flowers and insect 15 years ago, When they went to the market and saw beautiful fishes or shrimps, they took them home so I could practice on those animals, Hieu recalled.Over the last five years, the man has been more serious about his passion. He has read a lot of documents and made many animal specimens, attracting patrons who are collectors or educators.In 2018, while working as an movie director in HCMC, he decided to quit his cinema job to completely devote himself to his passion.

Hieu, 30, has been deeply interested in biology since he was a child. But he did not get into taxidermy until his family members encouraged him to mount flowers and insects 15 years ago.
"When they went to the market and saw beautiful fishes or shrimps, they brought them home so I could practice on them," he says.
For the last five years he has been more serious about his passion. He has read up a lot and mounted many animal specimens, attracting collectors and educators.
In 2018 he decided to quit his work as a cartoon movie director in HCMC to take up taxidermy full time.

Time is the most crucial factor when it comes to making specimens of animals, Hieu said. When an animal dies, he must approach it and start his work immediately to keep its skin perfectly. The skin is later removed from the body and dried carefully before Hieu places it onto the body specimen. He measures detailed sizes of the animals, ensuring specimens have the same sizes as the living creatures.If he could not approach the animal on time and the skin decomposes, bone specimens will be the choice.In the photo, the iguana had lost its skin pigments after dying, so Hieu colored it after finishing the specimen.

Time is the most crucial factor when it comes to mounting animals, Hieu says. When an animal dies, he must start his work immediately to keep its skin intact. The skin is later removed from the body and dried carefully before Hieu uses it to mount the specimen. He carefully measures the animals to make sure the size does not change after stuffing.
If he cannot get an animal in time and the skin decomposes, he mounts its skeleton.
In the photo above, the iguana had lost its skin pigments after dying, and so Hieu colored it after mounting.

Hieu used to used formalin to preserve the animals bodies. But since he learned the chemical made a negative effect on his heath, he has opted for other options with fewer chemicals. Some documents and chemicals are bought from abroad, Hieu said, adding his specimens can be kept longer if they are preserved well in glass cages at suitable temperatures. Each species has a different type of skin, so Hieu must be flexible. With snakes, if he uses the wrong chemical, their skin will be sloughing.

Hieu used to use formalin to preserve animals' carcasses, but after learning the chemical could affect his heath, he switched to other substances with fewer chemicals.
Each species has a different type of skin, and so he needs to be precise. For instance, with snakes, the use of a wrong chemical could cause their skin to slough off.

Hieu drills holes into animals bones and use metal wire to connect them. In this step, I must be careful and skillful to make perfect body structure from these bones, Hieu maintained, adding sometimes he felt he is a veterinarian.

Hieu drills holes into animal bones and uses metal wire to attach them.
"During this process, I must be careful and skillful to make the perfect body structure from these bones," he says, adding sometimes he feels like a veterinarian.

Glue connects broken pieces of bones.

He uses glue to reattach broken bone pieces.

This rabbit specimen took Hieu more than a month to finish. Some larger species like crocodiles or cows will take him up to months.

This rabbit specimen took Hieu more than a month to finish. Some larger animals like crocodiles and cows take him months.

A specimen is successful when it looks exactly like the living animal. Some children have never seen these chickens in real life, but when they look at these specimens, they said they look like those on television, that is when I succeed, Hieu said.

"A specimen is successful when it looks exactly like the living animal. Some children have never seen these chickens in real life, but when they look at these specimens, they say they look like those on television. That is when I have succeeded."

The man thinks he is lucky to have the skillful hands to make these specimens. More than that, he can make them become his livelihood, especially when making specimens is still a rere job in Vietnam.

Hieu thinks he is lucky to have the skill to mount these specimens and make a livelihood out of it.

According to Hieu, this job only appears at some museum in Vietnam. He has founded a company focusing on making specimens and supporting young people, especially veterinary students, to learn more about animals and making their specimens.

He has set up a taxidermy company that also helps young people, especially veterinary students, learn more about animals and mounting specimens.

 
 
go to top