A Very Important Beaver

Beaver specimen commission

Thanks to grants from the Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) and Friends of RAMM, we have been able to commission two beaver specimens for the permanent collection.

The taxidermy mount has been prepared by Jazmine Miles-Long, an ethical taxidermist and natural history restorer based in Hastings. Jazmine only works with animals that have died from natural causes. Osteological preparator Jon Nott has prepared and mounted the beaver’s skeleton in a pose that mirror’s Jazmine’s taxidermy.

The surprise arrival of beavers on the River Otter in 2013 caused quite a stir. In 2015, in the midst of public campaigns against their removal, Devon Wildlife Trust began a trial to investigate the effects of a wild-living population of beavers on the river. The Trust have since released a small number of beavers in order to increase genetic diversity, and in April 2019 they released a young female, originally from Scotland’s River Tay. Sadly, her body was recovered from near the mouth of estuary three days after her release.

Acknowledging the important educational and scientific opportunity the beaver presented, Devon Wildlife Trust agreed to allow RAMM to acquire her for the collection. Both specimens will soon be on display in RAMM’s Courtyard Wall, and will be brought out for activities and events, allowing visitors to have a really close look at these marvellous creatures.

In August 2020 DEFRA ruled that families of beavers on the River Otter are permitted to remain there. This is a landmark decision and one of the most important moments in England’s conservation history. Thanks to the support of NatSCA and Devon Wildlife Trust, RAMM will be able to share the story of the first ever reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England.

Find out more about RAMM’s Very Important Beaver (VIB) in a blog post by Natural Sciences Curator, Holly Morgenroth.