Aleksandra Mir

Welcome Back to Earth

SANKT GALLEN—The Natural History Museum:

Not a Local Bird

-- So here in the basement, we have all the plant specimens and stuffed animals. We have over 100,000 plants and 400 animals. We used to have an elephant, but they gave it away, before my time, not enough space to store it

-- How big was it?

-- Like an elephant

-- Old?

-- No, juvenile

-- Would you have kept it?

-- Oh, yes, it was of great scientific value

-- What is the scientific value of a stuffed elephant?

-- Oh, if it was captured in the wild, it is invaluable. You can sample its genes for population research. Invaluable. Really a shame. Here are the birds

-- Wow

-- Yes, most ot hem are very old, a century old. We even have extinct birds.

-- What is an extinct bird ?

-- Birds that don't exist anymore. This one for example, the American Migratory Pigeon. It's gone. They used to be flocks of millions flying around. They were shot down for sport. The last one died in a Zoo in Cincinnati in 1914

-- It is beautiful

-- Yes. Most birds here are beautifully preserved. We had some of the best artists working here in St.Gallen preparing the birds. Their expressions are very realistic

-- Aret they filled with arsenic?

-- Yes, and DDT

-- Is it dangerous for you to work with them?

-- It is part of the job, we don't keep them out for very long. Here are the sceletons. This is a moose

-- And a human. How old is it?

-- The person who gave it?

-- No, it

-- Probably 100 years old

-- Local?

-- It was a very old person, look, all the teeth are out. In those times, they used it for medical research. This is the sceleton of an ant eater. Here is a snake. Do you want to see the fossils?

-- I think all I want is a white bird with its wings stretched out, flying, a bit like an airplane. Maybe a white dove, or a seagull?

-- The white dove is upstairs, in the exhibition about biblical animals, but here is the seagull. It is not a local bird though

-- It is perfect