Some of the most popular exhibit items I use at the nature center are the collection of animal pelts. We have a large variety of different pelts, including deer, skunk, opossum, squirrel, red fox, beaver, and coyote, among others. When I do a presentation for a preschool, elementary school, or nursing home, I often take the animal pelts because all ages love to feel the soft furs and get closer to nature.
Each fur can signal the opening for discussion and reference back to exhibits at the Nature Center. For instance, the red fox pelt reminds me to mention that the tail is called a brush, and we have a taxidermy red fox on display by the conference rooms. The beaver pelt allows me to discuss Native Americans and trade. In 1650 to 1700 AD, a three-foot pile of beaver pelts would have been valued at approximately $300.
Preschool-aged kids love the pelts because they can touch them, which is so much more fun than just looking at them. I often read a book to coincide with the pelts. For instance, during the June story time, I read a story book about deer and the kids got to touch deer pelts, skulls, sheds, racks, and even an elk rack!
When showcasing the pelts at nursing homes, many of the seniors remind me there was a time when wearing real animal fur was extremely fashionable, and not quite as taboo as it is considered now. The seniors love to touch the fox and mink pelts, and reminisce of a time when those furs were all the rage!
At the Nature Center, we have a variety of furs for viewing and touching, near the footprints display. The names are on the reverse side, so test your knowledge and see how many you can identify. If your group or organization would like to schedule a program, such as the animal pelt identification, please call me at 816-676-3204, or email us.