22-year-old British taxidermist Elle Kaye has a pretty unusual eating habit, even by taxidermy standards – she actually consumes the meat of the subjects she stuffs for her art. Kaye mostly uses roadkill or animals that have died of natural causes, and she tries to eat as much of them as possible, as long as the meat is fresh.
The attractive young woman who studied art at Loughborough University said that she decided to eat her subjects because she wanted to recycle and minimize waste. “For me, it’s a lifestyle choice,” she says. “Doing what I do ensures I recycle a deceased animal, as a meat eater, there is no logic in wasting perfectly edible meat. It’s important to me, because it upholds all of the notions that underpin taxidermy, and it means that I do the animal justice in recycling all of it.”
“I’m a big meat eater and I believe strongly in the idea of recycling,” she says. “It doesn’t make sense for me to preserve the specimen then throw the meat away. If I can determine that it’s fresh, I wouldn’t hesitate to eat it. I’m very careful.”
Elle works a lot with animals like rabbits, squirrels, deer and birds like pheasants and wood pigeons – they all feature on her workbench as well as her menu. She is a brilliant taxidermist. Her designs are stunningly unique and range from peacock and mouse ornaments to bird-based fashion pieces.
Unfortunately, Kaye’s work is shadowed by her unusual eating habits, which most people find disturbing. She has become the target of abuse and threats online, with people telling her to ‘go to hell’ or that they’ll ‘cut her up’. Elle, however, remains undeterred by such comments.
Photo: Elle Kaye
“I used to let it get to me. Now I don’t allow it to affect me. It’s like being an artist. People are so subjective.” Kays says. “I am lucky to have a close network of people around me who support what I do, which has helped to give me the confidence to excel in what I do and push myself. I have had animal rights activists, vegans, vets and animal lovers take my classes and they have all been really complimentary about the steps I take to ensure the most virtuous and human preservation is being carried out.”
Elle also points out that she is highly ethical, and that she’ll never harm an animal for the purpose of her work. “I have many connections to farmers and aviculturists across the country that control pests and livestock on their land,” she explained. “I have no intervention in the way that these animals are controlled, and am simply a vehicle of alternative disposal for their owners and keepers.”
Photo: Elle Kaye
She said that she also takes pride in working with roadkill, or animals that she finds dead in wooded areas where she lives. “I keep a paper trail to log the properties of every animal that I find, and acquire all the correct licenses when appropriate.”
Elle’s passion for taxidermy stems from her in interest in biology, animal science and conservation. “It allows me to experience the fascination of animal biology, whilst also providing me with the opportunity to preserve animals for educational study. Giving animals new life is an immense privilege to me.”