The dodo is a species of bird that went extinct between the years 1650 and 1690. Last year, the Cercles des jeunes naturalistes (CJN) decided to dust off their replica of a life-size dodo that was kept in a basement at the Montréal Botanical Garden, and had previously been present in a circle led by former CJN director Laure Bouchard. To restore this reproduction of the mythical bird, they needed a partner with some clout. And so the team behind Cosmo le Dodo, well-known comic book character and environmental hero, agreed to join the project. The next step? Get the somewhat worse-for-wear representation of the bird back on its feet. Taxidermist Charles-René Bazinet rolled up his sleeves and took up the challenge.
Reconstructing the dodo
The CJN dodo dated from 1965, and the extent of the work to be done was considerable. An experienced professional, Mr. Bazinet first worked up some sketches in miniature, then in actual size, as a way of structuring the project and sharing with the CJN the stages in the reconstruction of their dodo.
Clogs, straw and down
In dismantling the reproduction, Mr. Bazinet updated the materials that made up the model, namely wood, steel wires and straw for the bird’s skeleton. The skull was sculpted in wood, the beak made from clogs, and the outer body was covered in a skin “similar to that of a goose, the layer of down,” says Mr. Bazinet.
The grand return of the dodo
The restoration of the dodo took over five months! Work went on by day and even at night, with the taxidermist giving everything he had to the project.
Very pleased with and very proud of their new dodo, CJN director André St-Arnaud and his team initiated steps towards exhibiting the reproduction of the animal – which measures close to one meter in height – in the Montréal Biodôme’s Naturalia Room. And the exhibition project for the three-foot-high dodo was accepted.
Together, preserving nature
The CJN is demonstrating yet again the bond that joins their mission to that of Space for Life: teaching natural sciences and the behaviors we need to adopt in order to preserve nature.
Don’t miss out on seeing this curious bird at the Biodôme, the only one in Canada, magnificently restored and witness to a not so distant past. It reminds us of the fragility of life on our wonderful planet, the interconnectivity of the ecosystems supporting that life and the role we must play if the history of the dodo is not to repeat itself...