So I found this tiger skin rug in a suitcase...
September 5, 2011 6:15 PM   Subscribe

So I have this tiger skin rug... My uncle passed away and I found a bengal tiger rug in an old suitcase. I'd love to donate this tiger skin rug to a historical society/museum/conservation-minded cause. Any ideas? Located in NYC.
posted by BigJen to Grab Bag (15 answers total)
The first thing that popped into my mind was The Explorers Club. If they don't take it, they might lead you in the right direction.
posted by spec80 at 6:34 PM on September 5, 2011

Do you have any information about when and/or how your uncle might have acquired this skin?
Some things to consider:
Was he in the military? Is your family from this region? Did he travel for business? Are there any letters from any period of his life? Photographs of his travels? Might he have had a mistress from Bengal? I know I'm reaching here, but any clues you can find will make this item more appealing to an organization.

Smithsonian wants you to note that they may not accept all donations of objects. If your tiger rug has, an interesting documentable story, they might talk to you about it.
posted by bilabial at 7:05 PM on September 5, 2011

You may be interested in this week's story on "The Moth " by Bokara Legendre, entitled, "Mummy Was a Wild Game Hunter," in which she struggles with what to do with a large number of inherited big game "trophies." At one point, she considers burning them, which would have been problematic because taxidermy has in the past involved the use of arsenic and other harmful substances. Museums may not even want to display this artifact because of the risk of outgassing and might need to keep it in cold storage.
posted by Morrigan at 7:16 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Prop house?
posted by jeanmari at 7:27 PM on September 5, 2011

Buffalo Exchange stores will probably take it for the "Coats for Cubs" program. Or you can donate it directly to the Humane Society for the same purpose.

The Tucson-based consignment chain is gathering donations of fur apparel, including trims, accessories and shearling, for the Humane Society of the United States as part of its "Coats for Cubs" program.
The fur coats aren't for shaved or hairless critters. Rather, they will go to wildlife-rehabilitation specialists who work with orphaned or injured animals. The furs are used to comfort the restless critters, which will snuggle up with the fur, burrow into it to sleep, or even use it as a toy.
"The furs are used as bedding to comfort them, so they're not sitting in a metal cage and there is nothing warm and fluffy," said Michelle Livingston, marketing director for Buffalo Exchange.

posted by MexicanYenta at 7:29 PM on September 5, 2011 [8 favorites]

You might ask the local museum of natural history. Here in Los Angeles they have dioramas of animals in simulated environments. Especially since Bengals are so endangered, it might be useful for educational applications.
posted by effluvia at 7:42 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you can't find a museum to take it, Obscura on E 10th might buy it.
posted by bedhead at 9:20 PM on September 5, 2011

Came in to mention the Moth story as well... it seemed to suggest that you may need to find a local organization, as in some cases it may be illegal to transport endangered species (in any stage of aliveness) across state lines.
posted by Mchelly at 9:28 PM on September 5, 2011


I would tread very carefully; the sale of such items is prohibited by the Lacey Act, under which Gibson Guitars was infamously raided last week. You may want to seek legal advice before doing anything. For instance, you may need a professionally vetted provenance showing this tiger was killed or imported prior to 1973 in order for any such transfer to be accepted.

Example auction listing.

posted by dhartung at 9:31 PM on September 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

That sounds like the kind of thing that a theater company might want.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:10 PM on September 5, 2011

Seconding dhartung. In certain jurisdictions selling such objects, regardless of how or when they were acquired is a crime. Tread carefully.
posted by outlaw of averages at 11:56 PM on September 5, 2011

If no one will take it, you could donate it to me. :) I'd pay shipping.
posted by agregoli at 7:51 AM on September 6, 2011

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Law Enforcement Division manages cross-border trade of items related to endamgered species. They have a brochure which includes this:
What About Buying or Selling Wildlife Within the United States?
Federal law restricts interstate commerce in migratory birds, bald or golden eagles, endangered or threatened species, and any wildlife that is taken, possessed, transported, or sold illegally in a State or foreign country. These restrictions apply to live or dead animals, their parts, and products manufactured from them.

You could probably call them and ask. *shrug* If not, send it to meeeee!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:34 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the advice! You've given me great leads - I got stuck at "uhh... A museum?"

I'm not sure how he acquired it. My aunt has me taking care of his older stuff, because he passed away. I'll ask her for more details. I know he had it in the 1970s, and it was in an old suitcase with military photos from a studio that closed in the 1940s.

I'm set on donating it to a conservation-minded educational institution, rather than any sort of private ownership or purchase. I've called a couple of museums and it may be crossing state lines; I'll call the US Fish and Wildlife folks to see if I need to file anything to make it on the up and up.

Thank you again, Metafilterians. You're the best!
posted by BigJen at 11:12 AM on September 6, 2011

Update! You have to check with the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service before moving an endangered species object across state lines. You also must check with each state's Fish and Wildlife branches about its laws regarding such artifacts. It looks like the tiger skin is going to the Museum of Natural History in NYC, to join a traveling exhibition about Asia! It's in NJ now, which is why I had to check with all the agencies.

Also, there are funny rules about donating these artifacts. Check with the above-mentioned departments.
posted by BigJen at 7:29 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

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