The Mason Exhibit Collections
“The most important thing is to preserve the world we live in. Unless people understand and learn about our world, habitats, and animals, they won’t understand that if we don’t protect those habitats, we’ll eventually destroy ourselves.”
Mammals are a group of animals that have backbones and hair or fur. They are warm-blooded and they have four-chambered hearts. They also feed their young with milk from the mother's body. The young of most mammals are born alive. The Mason Wildlife Exhibit houses and maintains over 20 mammal mounts as well as numerous pelts of fox, bobcats, and coyotes. There are three types of bears in North America, 2 of which are displayed here. The American black bear and the grizzly or brown bear. We also have a beautiful full-bodied cougar mounted on a rustic log. The cougar, which is also commonly referred to as a puma, mountain lion, or panther, is the second largest cat in North America. This collection let you get up close and experience these majestic animals without having to face them head on.
Mammal Displays Include
The main taxonomic representation of the collection are the ungulates (mammals with hooves). The native ungulates represented in this collection include: Alaska Moose, American Bison, Barren-Ground Caribou, Bighorn Rocky Mountain Sheep, Canada Moose, Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, Coues Deer, Dall Sheep, Desert Bighorn, Mountain Caribou, Mountain Goat, Mule Deer Musk Ox, North American Elk, Pronghorn, Rocky Mountain Mule Deer, Sira Moose, Stone Sheep, Whitetail Deer, Woodland Caribou
Bird Displays Include
Chukar Partridge, Common Goldeneye, Dusky Grouse, Harlequin Duck (Drake & Hen), Lesser Scaup (Drake & Hen), Mallard (Drake & Hen), Mourning Dove, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler (Drake & Hen), Red-Necked Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Willow Ptarmigan
There are 2,059 bird species in the continent of North America, according to data from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Birds are the only living creatures with feathers. Feathers are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up bird beaks, lizard scales, mammal hair, human fingernails, and animal hooves and horns. Feathers help birds fly and keep them warm and dry. The color patterns of feathers can help birds stay camouflaged or find mates. Game birds are wild birds which are legally hunted for sport. There are 34 game birds found in the United States and Canada, several on display here. Waterfowl are birds that like the water, living by rivers, lakes and other bodies of fresh water. They have short, webbed feet and a broad, flat bill. There are over 40 recognized waterfowl species, many that are also hunted for sport.
A fish is a type of animal that has a backbone, lives in the water, and has fins. Most fish have scales covering their bodies and breathe with gills. Fish belong to a very large group! Nearly half of all vertebrates are fish. Fishes have been swimming in Earth's waters for more than five hundred million years. That's longer than any other kind of vertebrate has been on Earth. Fish were the first vertebrate animals to evolve. The majority of fishing done in North America is done in freshwater. There are many different freshwater game fish represented in the collection. Salmon, on the other hand, hatch in fresh water - migrate to the ocean - then return to fresh water to reproduce. Folklore has it that the fish return to the exact spot where they hatched to spawn. Our fish reproductions are made from the some of the most advanced techniques of a master craftsmen. Each one is painted with true artistic perspective to capture the colors and detail of the native fish.
Fish Displays Include
Arctic Grayling, Bear Lake Cutthroat Trout, Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, Brook Trout, Chinook Salmon, Chum Salmon, Coho Salmon, Inconnu, King Salmon, Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Sheefish, Steelhead Salmon, Steelhead Trout, White Sturgeon, Yellow Perch, Yellowstone Lake Trout
The Mason Wildlife Exhibit has many animal specimens on display. Visitors often ask about what these specimens are and how they were made. Most of the animals in the exhibits were once alive but are now examples of taxidermy.
What is taxidermy?
Taxidermy is a way to preserve an animal for display or study. There are many different ways to do taxidermy, but they usually involve mounting a real animal’s skin on a fake body. The word taxidermy combines the words taxis (which means arrangement) and derma (which means skin). So, taxidermy is all about arranging skin to make animals look alive again.
Why taxidermy an animal?
Taxidermy preserves an animal – which allows people for many generations to see what an animal looked like when it was alive. Because body parts like skin are preserved, future scientists can get all sorts of useful information from taxidermied animals, like size, color and texture, and evolution.
Some taxidermy doesn’t include the animal at all. Taxidermists are talented artists who can also re-create catch-and-release game from clear photographs. Most of the fish mounted in this exhibit are actually made entirely from man-made materials leaving the fish alive and in their natural habitat.
How is taxidermy created?
After an animal dies, it gets taken to a professional taxidermist. The taxidermist skins the animal and preserves the skin with chemicals. The skin is mounted over a form that resembles the live animal. Most forms are made of a hard, plastic-like foam. Once the skin is on the form, a taxidermist adds clay and other materials to the form to make the shape just right. Glass eyes make the animal look alive. The skin is then pinned in place and left to dry.
After the skin dries, the taxidermist removes the pins and adds final touch-ups. These might include paint, brushing and blow drying the animal’s fur, and adding wet spots to the nose or eyes to make it look even more alive.