Give Taxidermy a Chance


Every Russian museum follows the same template: exhibit on heroism of locals during the ‘Great War’ (WWII), some local photos of settlers with hats and moustaches, out here in the east you get a few artifacts from original inhabitants (eg the Aino here on Sakhalin Island) and a full room devoted to the careful artistry of taxidermy.

I’ve seen enough stuffed tigers and bears to feed busloads of kids going to museums like these. But nothing compared to this one in Vladivostok. It’s supposed to be of a Siberian Tiger attacking a Siberian bear, teeth exposed, looks of rage, between two animals that once lived in the area (a central street in Vlad is called Tiger Hill — apparently they were there before the housing blocks came). I didn’t want to pay the $2 or so fee to use my camera in the museum, but the guard noticed me looking at it intently and suggested ‘go ahead, photograph…’ I did.

I mentioned it to some locals which prompted a Beatles-or-Stones type conversation about who would when the fight. ‘Tiger is quicker. Tiger would win.’ ‘But what if the bear was bigger? It could let the tiger exhaust itself.’ ‘Tiger claws not as deep as bears.’ ‘Yeah but bear can’t spin in circles to keep up with tiger.’ ‘Tiger!’ ‘Tiger!’ ‘Yes, tiger.’

I always felt they looked like they were dancing.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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