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Nature's MirrorHow Taxidermists Shaped America's Natural History Museums and Saved Endangered Species$
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Mary Anne Andrei

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226730318

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226730455.001.0001

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“The Duty to Conserve”: Museums and the Fight to Save Endangered Marine Mammals

“The Duty to Conserve”: Museums and the Fight to Save Endangered Marine Mammals

(p.136) Chapter Five “The Duty to Conserve”: Museums and the Fight to Save Endangered Marine Mammals
Nature's Mirror

Mary Anne Andrei

University of Chicago Press

Frederic Lucas, head of exhibits at the U. S. National Museum, endeavored to design exhibits to educate the public about the need for species conservation. Since serving with Charles Townsend, now director of the New York Aquarium, on the Fur Seal Commission, Lucas had become increasingly aware of the rapid depletion of marine mammals. They recognized that it would be challenging to raise awareness about the plight of endangered species less iconic than the American bison. Many aquatic animals lived in remote locations—on inaccessible islands, in polar regions, or at home under the waves—which made them more difficult to study and preserve. Yet, without immediate action, Lucas feared the fate of the great auk was soon to befall a shocking number of marine mammals—the sea otter, the walrus, the northern fur seal, and whale species. Townsend joined Lucas in his conservation work. When both men concluded that the best way to revive the dwindling herds of fur seals was through selective management, they encountered fierce opposition from their old ally William Hornaday. The battle that followed threatened to divide the conservation movement and continues to shape arguments between conservationists and advocates of wildlife management to this day.

Keywords:   Frederic Lucas, Charles Townsend, William Hornaday, New York Aquarium, U. S. National Museum, marine mammals, conservation, wildlife management, endangered species

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