Carl Akeley


Carl Akeley Famous memorial

Clarendon, Orleans County, New York, USA
Death 18 Nov 1926 (aged 62)
Congo, Democratic Republic of
Burial Goma, Nord-Kivu, Congo, Democratic Republic of
Memorial ID 148317514 View Source

Taxidermist, Sculptor, Inventor, Author, and Conservationist. Considered by many to be the father of modern taxidermy, he his best remembered for his contribution of wild animal sspecimens to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, New York. He specialized in African mammals, especially the elephant and the gorilla. Born Carl Ethan Akeley, he grew up on a farm and his formal education was limited to only three years. After receiving basic instructions on taxidermy in Brockport, New York, he earned his apprenticeship at Ward's Natural Science Establishment in Rochester, New York. In 1886 he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he created the world's first complete museum habitat diorama at the Milwaukee Public Museum and remained there until 1894 when he began working for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. In 1909 he started working for New York City's American Museum of Natural History and accompanied former US President Theodore Roosevelt on a year-long expedition in Africa, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. In 1921 he led an expedition to Mt. Mikeno in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), in search of mountain gorillas for display in museum exhibitions. After killing several specimens, he changed his view and began working for the establishment of a gorilla preserve and in 1925 King Albert I of Belgium was persuaded to create the Albert National Park (now Virunga National Park) for this purpose and it became Africa's first national park. During his lifetime, he received over 30 patents for his inventions, most notably the cement gun, the shotcrete (concrete through a hose and pneumatically projected at high velocity onto a surface), and the "pancake" camera, and was awarded the John Scott Medal of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for his invention of the cement gun. He also wrote several books, including his autobiography "In Brightest Africa" (1920). Of his many sculptures, probably his most prominent is "The Old Man of Mikeno" (1923), a bronze bust of the first mountain gorilla that he encountered and is on display at the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York. During his final journey to the Belgian Congo in 1926, he became ill with a hemorrhagic fever and died at the age of 62 and was interred on Mount Mikeno in Virunga National Park, near where he came across his first mountain gorilla. His face is honored on the gold medallion issued for the "Best in World" winners by the World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championship annual awards. The Akeley Hall of African Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History is named in his honor.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: William Bjornstad
  • Added: 26 Jun 2015
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 148317514
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Carl Akeley (19 May 1864–18 Nov 1926), Find a Grave Memorial ID 148317514, citing Carl Akeley Burial Location, Goma, Nord-Kivu, Congo, Democratic Republic of ; Maintained by Find a Grave .