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London’s strangest museum jobs: the Walrus Warden at the Horniman Museum

Posted at 4:30 pm, May 25, 2014 in Fun London
David Bolger ©Rob Greig

Ever wondered who’s in charge of all the weird and wonderful things inside our museums? We go behind the scenes and find out…

THE WALRUS WARDEN  – David Bolger, The Horniman Museum

‘It’s a compliment to be thought of as a walrus warden.

I ensure our visitors have a safe time, and that they respect our collection.’

‘The walrus sits proudly in the middle of our Natural History Gallery.

On a very big iceberg. Lots of kids want to climb on to the iceberg to touch him. People often change nappies on the iceberg as well. Pampers are taken off and put on. It’s a nice little platform for all sorts of things.’

He was first seen in Britain in 1886.

Yes, in the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in South Kensington. Frederick Horniman added him to his collection and he’s been at the Horniman for over a hundred years.’

‘The walrus is so big because he’s overstuffed.

The taxidermist doing the job didn’t realise that walruses have wrinkles, so he stuffed them out in the process. Therefore he’s a wrinkleless walrus.’

‘He doesn’t have a name but he does have a Twitter account @HornimanWalrus.

He can be a little bit camp at times.’

We get asked a lot of questions about blubber.

“What does blubber taste like? Have you got any?” We do get asked if walruses have babies – and how walruses poo.’

‘The most unusual question I’ve been asked was what football team he supported.

He supports Charlton Athletic. But he’s not renewed his season ticket this year.’

Want more taxidermy? Don’t just look at preserved animal carcasses: stuff ’em yourself. The London Taxidermy Academy can help you skin and mount a squirrel or mouse. 

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