Elephant seal Noëlle will be “stuffed” at the Reunion Museum of Natural History

The elephant seal named Noëlle, who had moved the people of Reunion for a few weeks and who unfortunately died in the swimming nets on the beach of Boucan Canot this week, will have a second life. It will be naturalized and exhibited at the Reunion Museum of Natural History in the coming months.

Noelle, the elephant seal who had been rescued on Boxing Day at La Grande-Chaloupe, was found dead this Wednesday, January 12 at the beach of Boucan Canot, entangled in protective nets. A story that had moved a good part of the Reunionese population.

A new life at the Natural History Museum

The elephant seal will be entitled to a new life. She will naturalized and exposed to Reunion Natural History Museum in the coming months, says its director, Gaël Pothin. “After the discovery of the corpse, the stranding network of La Réunion which took charge of the body for a necropsy, to be able to determine the reason for the death and to take biological samples. The taxidermist of the museum intervened to take the skin animal”, says Gaël Pothin.

This skin will be previously treated, degreased and prepared. “It is a process of stabilizing the skin with products, so that it is not attacked by insects. It will be put in the freezer and it will be stabilized first. The skin will then be sent to metropolis for tanning. We will tan the leather so that it becomes supple and no longer degrades”, continues Gaël Pothin. The skin will then be sent back to Reunion to complete the naturalization of the animal.

Lots of paperwork

Before this process, the Museum will have to take care of the administrative part. “The elephant seal is a protected animal. We will have to have an exemption so that we can naturalize it, so that we can regularize the papers”, he continues.

The taxidermist will create a mannequin with a “natural” pose and then stick Noëlle’s skin on it. “We’re going to get dressed with Noëlle’s skin. It’s not stuffing, as we could do before. The model will have the most natural attitude so that the specimen looks as alive as possible and that corresponds to what can be seen in nature”, underlines the specialist.

Not until next year

Asked when Reunionese will be able to go see Noëlle at the Natural History Museum, Gaël Pothin replies that it is difficult to say. “It won’t be until next year”, he says. “Noëlle had a tragic end that was impacted by human activity. It is important to tell her story. Noëlle has become a heritage animal that now belongs to the memory of Reunionese.”

The director of the Natural History Museum could not say how much this operation was going to cost.

Sebastien Nais

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