by Cynthia Lee
This leopard from Tanzania is part of a collection of 72 African mammals recently donated to the Redpath Museum (Photo: Owen Egan)
Earlier this year, an eclectic mix of stuffed and mounted African mammals turned up on the Redpath Museum’s third-floor landing. The new inhabitants include a lion, a bongo, a leopard, an oryx, an eland and a hippopotamus.
These creatures are all part of a collection of 72 African mammals that were recently donated to the museum. Belonging to a single private donor, the collection includes over two dozen different species of African mammals, ranging from some of the continent’s most famous large carnivores, the lion and leopard, to smaller, lesser-known bush herbivores like the dik-dik and oribi (small antelopes).
Some of the animals in the collection are rarely glimpsed by humans. Bongos, for instance, spend most of their time in dense forests. Both the males and females have horns, which is very unusual.
The entire group of specimens was collected and donated by Ghassan Jabre, an avid outdoorsman and hunter. Until they were moved to the Redpath, the collection was housed in the basement of his St-Lambert home.
Redpath curatorial technician Anthony Howell notes that Jabre assembled his collection over the course of nearly a decade, taking care to get approval from African authorities to hunt in the vast game parks he visited and, when possible, selecting animals that were already wounded or in a weakened state. The animals in the collection were all prepared by award-winning taxidermist Richard Bolduc.
“The African collection represents a tremendous asset to the museum, to the University and the community as a whole, both for its great aesthetic appeal, and for the unique diversity of these mammals from so far away,” says Howell.