Relevant Communications Secures National Public Radio for Chase Art & The Art of Dr. Seuss

Before His Name Was Known At All, Seuss Put Creatures On The Wall

In the mid-1930s, Theodor Geisel was a fledgling author and artist, working as an illustrator for New York ad agencies. His father, superintendent of parks in Springfield, Mass., occasionally sent him antlers, bills and horns from deceased zoo animals. Geisel kept them in a box under his bed and used them to create whimsical sculptures.

Decades before he became a best-selling children’s book author, Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Geisel, created a series of sculptures he called his “Unorthodox Taxidermy.” Using real horns, beaks and antlers, he fashioned whimsical creatures which look like they jumped right out of his books.

A traveling show of replicas, called “If I Ran the Zoo”, has landed at a gallery in Long Island. Today we bring you that story (how else?) in verse:

Geisel eventually created 17 whimsical creatures — eight of which are still in the collection of his estate, and a couple of which are owned by collectors.

When Dr. Seuss was three — or two,
his family lived by the zoo.

And as he lay in bed at night,
loud noises gave him great delight.

Jeff Schuffman reps the Seuss Estate,
and says that Ted would stay up late:

“At night, he can hear the tigers roar and the elephants bellow and so forth. And he was always drawing animals.”

(While Jeff was generous with time
alas, his comments do not rhyme.)

As Ted got older and he grew
He never did forget the zoo.

For art that pulled out all the stops,
Young Ted relied on good old Pops:

“His father was in charge of the zoo and when Seuss moved to New York City, his father started sending him various beaks and horns and antlers of animals that had met their natural demise for him to create something with. And then he decided to turn them into the Collection of Unorthodox Taxidermy.”

And — oh! — these creatures on the wall
are not like ones you’ve seen at all.

But don’t despair, or get too squirmy
This is Seuss-y taxidermy!

Doesn’t it seem strange to you
For fish to look like caribou?

Or take this happy looking fawn
With eyelids green and antlers on.

But Schuffman’s favorite of the group
has eyes that shine and ears that droop:

“We have Anthony Drexel Goldfarb, with his inquisitive look and forlorn smile. Actually, the original was constructed with rabbit ears. And then he would take, you know, papier-mâché and clay and mount it on these wood mounts to create this incredible, very unique and actually limited collection. He only made 17 sculptures that we’re aware of.”

Still, since the ones the Dr. made
are delicate and somewhat frayed,

the animals that go on tour
are copies, (as we said before).

For kids who see this silly show,
they do not care or do not know —

like Alexandra Thompson, who
adores a fish that’s red, not blue,

with razor teeth and pointy snout.
She loves it, (she could almost shout):

“The Sludge Tarpon … It looks weird!”

And if you think there’s nothing worse’n
missing seeing these in person …

If strange creatures bring you cheer,
we’ve posted photos for you here.