To capture the unique face of this orangutan, taxidermists built the facial structure with clay, using the death mask and other measurements as references.
Sculpting this clay maquette helped the team envision the pose in 3-D and plan the life-size model.
After days of prepping the hair, the orangutan is finally finished. Look for it in the “Primates” case, towards the back of the hall.
The secret to a lifelike mount is in finding just the right supporting structure and parts—from the perfect eyeball to an accurate head shape. This selection of commercially available glass and plastic eyes, ears, and tongues and plaster death casts of mammal features represent some of the products and processes that the taxidermists used to create the mounts.
© 2006 Smithsonian Institution