Big Game Hunter: Carl Akeley

Big Game Hunter: Carl Akeley

by Felix Sutton
Publisher: Julian Messner
©1960, Item: 93132
Hardcover, 192 pages
Not in stock

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Carl Akeley, American naturalist, sculptor, writer, was the world's foremost big game hunter—not for sport, but for the enrichment of science. Pioneering in the field of taxidermy, he prepared wild animals for exhibition, and the Akeley African Hall in New York's American Museum of Natural History is a memorial to his genius. He was also a brilliant inventor, and the movie camera he created to photograph wild life is the prototype of all newsreel cameras used today.

Born in 1864 in the wilderness of northern New York, Akeley was a skilled hunter at the age of twelve. Even then he experimented with taxidermy and earned his first fee when he "recreated" a neighbor's pet canary. Unlike most stuffed animals, his were amazingly lifelike, mounted against their own natural backgrounds. For a while he worked for a professional taxidermist, but his methods were far in advance of common practice and he longed to express his creative ability. The chance came when Jumbo, Barnum & Bailey's beloved circus elephant, was killed by a train. Akeley was chosen to mount it on wheels so that it might continue to lead circus parades. The job was considered impossible, for the animal weighed six tons. But Akeley achieved the impossible. Painstakingly, and with consummate art, he returned Jumbo to a world of adoring children.

At Marshal Field's museum in Chicago, Akeley realized his dream of bringing natural history exhibits to people who had never seen a deer, much less a lion. Sent to East Africa to collect an animal exhibit, he began a life of hazardous adventure. He is the only man who ever killed a snarling, slashing leopard with his bare hands. An elephant broke his ribs and punctured his lungs, but though mauled and maimed he had to go back and prove to himself that he wasn't afraid. When he was well past his prime, he stalked gorillas through the cliffs and canyons of the Belgian Congo.

Mr. Sutton recreates these adventures with mounting suspense. Warmly, intimately, he reveals the character of a man whose passion for science led him to roam the last frontiers of a savage world.


from the dust jacket

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