A woman in the U.K. is “killing” it in taxidermy as she stuffs dead birds for a living — and is now seeking to teach her skill to others.
Elle Kaye, 31, has been a taxidermist for over a decade. She prepares, stuffs and/or mounts birds for display or study.
She said she originally wanted to be a veterinarian but realized she “wasn’t academic but had a creative eye,” as SWNS noted of her abilities.
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Later, when studying fine art and sculpture at Loughborough University, Leicestershire, she started looking into taxidermy and said she “fell in love” with the art.
Now, she’s using her love of animals and creativity to teach the next generation of taxidermists.
Prices for her creations, which come in all shapes and sizes — from a blue tit to an exotic peacock or a flamingo — range from £250 (about $310 in U.S. dollars) to £2,500 (about $3,100 in U.S. dollars), as SWNS noted.
Kaye is based in Wembley, Greater London.
On her website, she explains that all the “specimens I work on are [a result of] natural deaths (age, sickness or injury, window death) and come from zoos, breeders or aviculturists.”
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She also says on her site that she works only “on domestic birds and not mammals.”
She said, “It is so rewarding to be close to birds,” as SWNS reported. “Taxidermy is a very valid and important part of conservation.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Elle Kaye via her website.
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Kaye said that when she “first joined the industry, the resources were limited and there was little-to-no community — especially for the younger generation of taxidermists. I did the work, but it was an arduous process of learning and relearning methods and processes.”
She said it was also “pretty lonely.”
“This work will teach us about the planet and the species on it.”
She added, “Now that I have almost a decade of practice under my belt, I think it’s really important to cultivate safe spaces for people who historically haven’t had access,” as SWNS reported.
After a college lecturer suggested to her that she look into taxidermy as a possible career, she spent days reading literature on the subject and decided it was the route for her.
Kaye said, “It married my interests — both my love of animals and creativity,” as SWNS noted. “It was the perfect pairing for me … This work will teach us about the planet and the species on it.”
She’s a “massive bird lover.”
She added, “I believe there is a fine line between being a taxidermist and a puppeteer. I have been asked to make shoes and clothes out of bird skins, which I declined.”
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She said that in the past, she’s also been “asked to make furniture and hybrid creations — the combinations of two different animals — which again, I always refuse.”
She said that one of the challenges of her work is dealing with trolls on social media who don’t understand exactly what she does — or how careful she is about it.
“A lot of the hate” that she gets, she said, “is coming from a place of loving animals and working on the assumption that taxidermy is coming from a place of brutality — it is a knee-jerk reaction,” as SWNS reported of her comments.
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“I have been compared to serial killers, like Jeffrey Dahmer,” she said. “I have had people say [that] I should burn in hell … I work on my own, so I have to handle the negativity on my own.”
Kaye explained that she’s a “massive bird lover” and specializes in birds.
“I have worked with all sorts of birds, both wild and exotic. I have worked with flamingos, swans, peacocks, parrots and local British birds like robins and woodpeckers.”
“It reminds me not to take every day for granted.”
She said that when she began work in this field, she believes she was one of a few women to take this career path.
She also said that working with dead animals makes her appreciate her life more, as SWNS reported.
“Because you have that reminder of mortality so frequently — it reminds you of the fragility of life [and] keeps me grounded in enjoying my life.” She also said, “It reminds me not to take every day for granted.”
She started a mentorship platform in April 2020, SWNS noted.
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“I created a free mentorship platform with over 2,000 active members, which provides a safe place for people to post their work for critique and to ask questions,” she told SWNS.
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Details about her work can be found at ellekayetaxidermy.co.uk