UAE: Would you pay Dh80,000 for this 'lion'?

'We have about five or six offers,' revealed Pieter VanBergen, Manager and Taxidermist at Afrikan Tanning and Taxidermy


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 7 Sep 2023, 8:10 AM

Last updated: Thu 7 Sep 2023, 11:21 PM

A 'lion' is on sale at the 20th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX) with an asking price of Dh80,000. The preserved lion is being sold by 'Afrikan Tanning and Taxidermy' stall and has already received a lot of interest.

“We have about five or six offers,” revealed Pieter VanBergen, Manager and Taxidermist at the company. “But of course, we are waiting for the best offer before making a final decision.”

Taxidermy is the art of preserving dead animals by mounting or stuffing them, for displaying or studying them. It usually uses the skin of an animal – that is skilfully removed once it is dead – rearranges it on a fake body to make it look real.

Pieter’s wife and business partner Anne explained that the skin had been taken from a dead lion in their hometown of South Africa and it had taken them over two months to bring to its current form. “Pieter is the taxidermist and he worked on it every day for hours for more than two months,” she said. “It takes a certain level of artistry and skill to recreate the animal in its original form.”

Huge Demand

This is the second year that the couple is returning to the UAE. In addition to the lion, the couple have other animal items like thorns from porcupines that are used as quills.

“Last year when we came, we realized that there is a huge demand for our products in the country,” said Pieter. “We had good business last year, so we decided to return this year as well.”

Anne revealed that the couple are now looking to set up a local shop to meet the demand. “Even this year, we came with a stall full of things,” she said. “There are still a few days left for the exhibition to end but we are almost completely sold out. Only the lion and a few other things remain.”

According to Anne, they have been approached by a number of local customers to stuff their dead animals, particularly birds. “We have seen a lot of customers who would like their falcons stuffed,” she said. “They have stored the dead body of their favourite bird in the freezer and are asking us to restore it so that they can pay homage to their late pet. There are not a lot of people who offer this service, so we are hoping to start a local service here.”

Taxidermy History

Hailing from hunting and animal-rearing families in South Africa, both Anne and Pieter have a history of working with animals. Having begun their taxidermy practice a few years ago, the couple have restored and stuffed many animals.

“The biggest one we have done so far is a life-sized giraffe,” said Pieter. “We did it for a lady in USA. We stuffed it and shipped it to her.”

In addition to this, the couple have also restored crocodiles, gazelles and half mounts of elephants. Despite having done such huge animals, the most challenging taxidermy the couple have done is that of a dog. “A lady asked us to create the mount of her pet dog,” said Anne. “It is probably because we are not used to it but we found it extremely difficult, and it took us months to complete.”


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