The drama of afterlives

This spectacular mount is another specimen from the recent Paris trip. It’s a classic illustration of the NLOB principles, because while it may scientifically be “just” an Indian Elephant and a Tiger, it has an historic and artistic context that makes it even more interesting.

The female tiger was shot on safari by Philip, Duc d’Orleans, in 1887. He had been travelling by elephant, and the tiger attacked the group as shown in the mount. The Howdah (the basket) collapsed under the tigers weight, and this allowed the Duke to escape. The group then hunted the tiger down, killed it, and sent it back to Paris to be mounted. I’m not sure of the origins of the elephant here (can anybody help?).

The Duke was an interesting man himself, later a claimant to the throne of France, and the alleged lover of opera star Nellie Melba!

The Grand Galerie d’Evolution preserves several “mascot” animals in addition to this. There’s Siam, an elephant that lived in Paris Zoo from 1964 to 1997. A rhino from the Versailles menagerie of Louis XV. Also, there is Joco the Chimpanzee, who belonged to Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. Georges Buffon was a French scientist who played a key role in the emergence of natural history in the late 18th Century.

This specimen reminded me a lot of Rossendale Museum and the amazing tiger/python mount, which will be featured in a future blog post.

David Craven


1 Comment

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One response to “The drama of afterlives

  1. David Craven

    Apologies for the slightly rough picture by the way, it’s dark in there and I couldn’t use flash. No tripod with me either.

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