Objects

The Wombat

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The wombat was gifted to the Literary and Philosophical Society by John Hunter, the governor of New South Wales, in 1799. He sent along a letter detailing how he kept the animal for weeks trying to coax it to eat, willing it to survive.  When it eventually starved to death he skinned it,  rubbed it with salt and sent it on to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in a barrel of rum.

When it arrived the taxidermist did not know how the animal would have moved. He had never seen one before – this was the first specimen of a wombat to leave Australia. The bones and muscles were not there as a guide. He decided to position it up on its hind legs, paws out as a dog begging for a bone. The animal is not capable of this position in reality.

The wombat is still on display at the Great North Museum: Hancock



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