Retired vice-principal's home sanctuary for hundreds of stuffed birds in Jilin province
80-year-old man and his wife use a good part of their pensions to keep 25-year hobby making specimens going
A retired teacher in Huinan county in Jilin province has converted his home into an aviary of stuffed birds, Xinhua reported.
Hu Zhentao has spent tens of thousands of yuan over the past 25 years to fill his 60- square-metre home with more than 700 bird specimens.
Stuffed birds cover the cabinets, walls and desks of the 80-year-old’s house even after he donated 400 to the local science and culture centre.
“My purpose for making bird specimens is to spread the knowledge of loving and protecting birds to society, especially young people,” Hu told the news service.
He has made specimens out of 300 of Huinan county’s 430 species of bird.
Hu started making bird specimens in the 1980s while the vice-principal of a middle school, after he noticed students were getting restless during biology lessons. He and the biology teacher started buying bird and snake corpses at the market to make into specimens, but people began giving him dead birds for free once they learned of his new hobby.
Hu started his hobby as bird taxidermist when he retired in 1989. He taught his wife the craft and she brought back beads from the market for the birds’ eyes. Their bird toolkit consists of a paper knife, pins, and two small steel bars and a small wooden plank to make a base.
Hu said that although the materials were simple, the cost added up. For example, he said he used 1,800 steel bars a year.
“These years, I have spent at least 50,000 to 60,000 yuan [HK$63,500 to HK$76 500] making specimens,” Hu said. “A good part of me and my wife’s 2,000-yuan pension is used on the specimens.”
Hu said he would not slow down the pace at which he made specimens. He said his wish was to find new homes for the 200 he made in the past two years and hoped more people would get involved in bird protection.
“Although I am old, my heart for protecting nature and birds is not at all old,” he said.