Everyone has been captivated by Ted Geisel’s –better known as Dr. Seuss– captivating stories. Through his beloved children’s books, he created a world of fantasy that taught us some of the most valuable advice a toddler could hear. With the tale of The Grinch he introduced us the value of community. The Lorax showed us the importance of caring about the environment, and The Cat in the Hat taught us that breaking the rules can give us more fun than anything else. But did you ever think that the mind behind these endearing stories was also one of the most bizarre taxidermists since Walter Potter?
Long before he became a beloved children’s author and the most distinguished rhymer on this side of the Equator, Ted Geisel started creating fantastical creatures, not only using pen and paper, but also pieces of real actual animals. Twisted as it may seem, the personal story of Geisel shows that this was done out of love and admiration rather than just a morbid practice.
When he was a kid, Geisel lived next to the zoo of the city of Springfield. As a young boy, he was deeply captivated by animals and visited his furry neighbors quite frequently, constantly bringing his sketchpad with him. Eventually Geisel's father became the superintendent of the zoo parks. By then he was already a fully grown man living on his own in New York City, although his love for animals and nature hadn’t changed one bit.
Geisel’s father encouraged his son to do taxidermy with the body parts of the majestic animals that passed away at the zoo. This turned into creative fuel for the imaginative Geisel. He would give new life to every animal part that his father shipped to him, creating enchanting creatures of a world of fantasy.
From the body parts that the elder Geisel sent his son, the young creator came up with seventeen dreamlike creatures. Treating the animal remains with delicacy and by mixing them with plaster, the results ended up being fantastically alluring.
Among this offbeat and enchanting collection, one might find beings as enchanting as the Two Horned Drouberhannis, a friendly deer-like animal he modeled out of wood. There’s also the ridiculously friendly Anthony Drexler Goldfarb who’s made out of plaster and rabbit ears, making it look exceedingly amiable and funny.
Some of the beasties of this collection are also sea dwellers. For instance, there’s the Turtle-Necked Sea Turtle, an animal with a docile and pleasant appeal with a rock solid shell. You can also find a weird sawfish made out of real animal bones, although this one looks much more friendly than his counterpart that lurks in our oceans.
Not all of the creatures of The Seuss System of Unorthodox Taxidermy were made out of animal body parts. There are some, such as the Tufted Gustard and the Powerless Puffer, that came straight out of Heigel’s imagination and were modeled from his idea to plaster.
He first displayed this collection in 1937 when he presented his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. According to his college friend Paul Jerman, the attendants were captivated by the fantastical and weird animal heads that showed up at Seuss’s presentations of the book.
The enchanting appearance of these mounted animal heads have made them an invaluable gem of Dr. Seuss’s artwork. Besides the originals, thousands of copies of these fabulous creatures have been sold throughout the globe. Surely, they can perplex anyone who comes across them.