Monday, 23 February 2015

NHM Tring

Today was the last day of half term, so we decided to visit the Natural History Museum at Tring. It's the baby brother to the fab museum in London and is used to house the Victorian stuffed animal collection of the 2nd Baron Rothschild. It's a fascinating place as you can get face to face with all sorts of animals and get a really good look at them. It's also not very big, so the kids can run around the whole thing without getting lost or tired!

It does feel like there are a lot of eyes watching you all the time though, as there are rows of cases literally bursting with creatures looking out of them.

It's a bit creepy and I find it best to imagine they're all models, instead of once living, breathing animals. Both Bug Mad Girl and I got about half way round before we both said how sad it made us feel to see so many animals killed so that people could look at them. Thankfully we don't do that any more (at least I hope we don't!) and people prefer to watch wildlife in it's natural habitat, taking photos and filming it.

This lion had a bit of a pained expression

Seeing a stuffed red kite makes me sad - better to see
them flying around!
How can stuffing this be a good idea?
Walter Rothschild owned Tring Park and kept a lot of unusual live animals in the grounds (as well as collecting the stuffed variety!) He used to drive around in a carriage pulled by a zebra and had emus, wallabies, cassowaries and giant tortoises roaming around the parkland. He also had muntjac deer and glis glis (edible dormouse) which both escaped and thrived in the local area (glis glis are a bit of a nuisance in the Chilterns and are still only found within a 25 mile radius of Tring).

The museum also houses many of the specimens that Darwin brought back from the Galapagos Islands. Although most of these are not on display and only available for research.

They even have a dodo on display, although this one is a model.

So, I think we had mixed feelings about our visit. It was interesting to see some of the animals up close and get a real feel for their size and features. But it was also a bit of a sad place, because so much had been killed.

We decided to go and have a quick look at Tring Park, but we'd forgotten our wellies, so didn't get too far (it was very muddy). Looks like a good place to visit again later in the spring.

 Finally, something alive and kicking ...

15 red kites flying over our house - I guess somebody must have been feeding

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