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With our Amazon Adventure exhibition approaching, our conservator has been preparing some of our taxidermy birds for display.

This toucan has been on display in the Natural History Gallery and our curator Jo wanted to showcase this specimen in the new Amazon Adventure exhibition.

This specimen has been on display in the Natural History Gallery for many years and still needed to be cleaned and repaired before being exhibited.

  • Amazon Toucan before conservation, The toucan before treatment.
    The toucan before treatment.

When I checked the toucan's condition, it became clear that its bill needed treatment.

There were a number of insect holes in the bill and evidence of previous attempts to fill some of these holes. The bill was dusty and there were dots of adhesive across the surface. I also noticed that there were areas where the colour of the bill had been stripped away around the old fills.

  • Amazon Toucan before conservation, A close up of the bill showing insect damage.
    A close up of the bill showing insect damage.

The bill was gently vacuumed and swabbed with solvent to remove the adhesive.

The remaining exposed insect holes were filled with a mixture of inert “microballoons” combined with an acrylic polymer adhesive and earth pigments. Fumed silica was also added to matt the fill mixture as the adhesive can dry glossy. Gouache paints were used to tone the areas around the old fills, and a fine layer of microcrystalline wax was applied and gently buffed to give the bill a healthy sheen.

  • Amazon Toucan after conservation, The bill after treatment - cleaned and the insect damage holes filled and toned in.
    The bill after treatment - cleaned and the insect damage holes filled and toned in.

Feathers were cleaned and re-preened, and some small structural repairs were made to the talons.

Our toucan is now ready to be displayed in its full glory!

  • Amazon Toucan after conservation, The toucan is ready for display!
    The toucan is ready for display!