• Elsie Hernandez

“The Keeper of a Quiet Kingdom in New York”

Skylar and I often drive by this store on 71-01 Metropolitan in Middle Village New York called Taxidermy Studio. Where many animals are displayed, including a huge bear. Not that we do not eat meat, but I’m not a real fan of hunting animals. Yet, I was curious to know about this place and with a little research, a personal phone interview with the store owner Taxidermist himself Mr. John Youngaitis, I suddenly found the whole profession rather interesting and as he called it an art.

The New York Times featured an article titled “The Keeper of a Quiet Zoo”, which I found to be a perfect sentence to describe this profession and Youngaitis. Just looking into the window you can almost feel the silence of this mini animal kingdom and that's why we called this blog “The Keeper of a Quiet Kingdom”, because I find animals to be powerful in every sense and the fact that they are displayed in this little area Queens makes it a unique subject.

So what is a taxidermist you ask? According to the Wikipedia’s definition a taxidermist comes from Taxidermy and is the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals for display (e.g., as hunting trophies or museum display) or for other sources of study (like species identification) or simply the preservation of a beloved pet. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.

photo by New York Times

When I had the opportunity to speak to Youngaitis, not only is he the only taxidermist in the five boroughs of New York City, but he also sounded like a warm soul who took a lot of pride in his work. You can see how he works in the New York Times link below. For those of you interested in the profession, Youngaitis has some genuine advice on how to become a taxidermist, a training he has known all his life. You need a lot of practice, he said and the best way to start is on small animals, read a lot of books on the subject and watch many videos. Apprenticing under someone is also highly advised by this expert. He worked under his dad who established the business in 1958. Youngaitis stated that eighty percent of his customers are hunters. However don’t let him kid you, just last year his moose and bear were displayed in the Sax Fifth Avenue Christmas window. Also sometimes people simply want the preservation of their beloved animal and let’s not forget all those animals of the wild you see in the museums.

Photo from John Youngaitis's facebook

So now we know what the Taxidermist studio is about and now every time Sky and I drive by this place we would think about “The Keeper of a Quiet Jungle in New York”.

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