At Long Last, Taxidermied Hyenas In Chicago Get Their Own Diorama
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
When you think of hyenas - if you ever think of hyenas - you might think of this...
(SOUNDBITE OF HYENAS LAUGHING)
BLOCK: The laughing hyena - well, laughter aside, hyenas don't exactly have the best reputation.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LION KING")
JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS: (As Simba) But, Zazu, you told me they're nothing but slobbering, mangy, stupid poachers.
BLOCK: They're usually the villains in any story, as in "The Lion King."
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
But in Chicago, four hyenas are finally getting the royal treatment. These hyenas are striped and they're stuffed. They belong to the Field Museum of Natural History, and they have never been properly displayed.
EMILY GRASLIE: These hyenas are over 100 years old, and they're one-of-a-kind.
BLOCK: That's Emily Graslie. She is the Field Museum's chief curiosity correspondent - what an excellent title. For years, the hyenas have been tucked away in the reptile hall, for some reason, in a corner. No backdrop; just a glass case. Emily Graslie wants to give them some love, so she's launched Project Hyena Diorama.
SIEGEL: It's a crowd-sourced campaign with a goal of raising at least $170,000. Graslie says that while striped hyenas may not be the most charming animals, there are only about 10,000 of them in the wild.
GRASLIE: Most people aren't going to get the chance to see these animals in real life and seeing them in a museum is the next best thing.
BLOCK: And these aren't just any stuffed hyenas. They are Carl Akeley hyenas.
SARAH CRAWFORD: Carl Akeley is pretty much the Michael Angelo of taxidermy.
BLOCK: That's exhibit developer Sarah Crawford who says keeping the hyenas in their current display is a slight against the taxidermic arts.
CRAWFORD: That's maybe the equivalent of having some unframed piece of work from da Vinci, you know, just kind of sitting in a corner for nobody to see.
SIEGEL: If all goes well, the hyenas will go on more prominent display in the Hall of Asian Mammals by January.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Hyenas go hi, hi, hi...
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