Cassowary Preserved at the Museum of Tropical Queensland

24 March 2010

Volunteers working in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s taxidermy department have their hands full this week with the preservation of a large cassowary.

In contrast to the volunteers' usual subjects, Southern Cassowaries are the third tallest and second heaviest living bird species, with adults standing up to two metres tall and weighing almost 60 kilograms.

Professional taxidermist, Roy McKay who has worked at the Australian Museum in Sydney and established a museum in New Guinea, is visiting the Museum of Tropical Queensland to guide the volunteers through the taxidermy process.

The volunteers will mount the specially-prepared body in to a life-like pose for public display in the museum’s Enchanted Rainforest exhibition.

Taxidermy is a long-standing museum technique that allows the public to learn from animal specimens without invading their habitats or holding them in captivity.

Museum of Tropical Queensland Director Peter McLeod said the opportunity to preserve a cassowary was an unusual and exciting one.

"The museum's taxidermy group work on animal specimens that have died through natural or accidental causes," Mr McLeod said.

"Because of this and their endangered status in the wild it is highly uncommon for cassowary bodies to be donated - this will be the first our volunteers have worked on."

Volunteer Beth Snewin said it was an amazing experience to be able to preserve one of the icons of North Queensland’s tropical rainforest.

"Through the art of taxidermy, a single specimen like this can educate generations of North Queenslanders and tourists about this amazing bird," Ms Snewin said

Preservation expenses were generously donated by Birds Australia, North Queensland.

Entry to the museum is free for locals through the Council Community Pass, supported by Townsville, Burdekin, Charters Towers and Hinchinbrook councils.

The Museum of Tropical Queensland, part of the Queensland Museum, is open from 9.30am-5pm daily.

Media contacts

  • Mei Nee Cheong 4726 0603 or 0414 264 987
  • Stephen Wilson 4726 0604 or 0431 334 583

Related Links