Meeting Zombie antelope in Zambia

Some awful, horrific (hilarious!) antelope taxidermy awaited in the garden of the hotel in Kabwe. Ripped stitches, hard legs as skinny and straight as table legs, and snarling, dead-eyed expressions. This crazy display of shoddy taxidermy craftsmanship made us laugh for hours afterwards.

A rest stop in Kabwe, Zambia

We took this photo in Kabwe, central Zambia. We had been driving from sunrise to sunset, and I had had a mini-meltdown at my travel mates an hour earlier under the stress of the long days. We were shattered, we needed beer, and we finally found this chance to relax before the sun went down.

The snapped-neck swan that kept us company over some well-earned beers

It was in a curious little garden in the hotel courtyard, an oasis of lush green gardens and sprinklers in an otherwise grimy and dusty town. A fibreglass swan with a grisly broken neck joined us in the photo, simultaneously hilarious and disturbing.

With open cans of Mosi lager (named for Victoria Falls), we reflected on a rattling near-death experience on the highway earlier that day, when a speeding police car swerved into our lane in a frenzy of sirens, inches away from a head-on smash.

Taxidermy gone wrong

Before we left the next morning, we had to admire three taxidermied antelope which were on display in the garden. The attempts at preserving African wildlife produced something grotesque and frightening.

Zombie antelope #1: The cold, dead-eyed coffee table

a bad taxidermy job on an antelope
Zombie antelope #1. This stiff-legged monstrosity has the cold, dead eyes of a killer; a flat, snappy duck billed-mouth; and pirate peg legs that were amputated at the knees and reattached.

Zombie antelope #2: The horrified, frozen in fear patch-up job

a scary taxidermy antelope
Zombie antelope #2. A scary taxidermied antelope. This one has a wide-eyed, horrific expression, a brutal chest-length operation scar, and a silver leg that clearly belongs to some other poor creature.

Zombie antelope #3: The snarling beast trapped in an inanimate body

a terrible scary taxidermy animal
Zombie antelope #3. A snarling beast, frozen in eternal pain. This antelope has empty, gaping eyes, a face that peels off like a mask, and swollen, puffy ears.

They were skinny and emaciated, their bodies criss-crossed with ripping stitches. Their features came out in a disturbing state, too – their feet reduced to bony pegs, their eyes widened in horror as if they’d been alive during the procedure, their faces shrunken with snarling teeth and empty black eye sockets.

Some seemed to be caught in a soulless, nightmarish world between life and death, others looked like they were looking for human blood to regenerate their mummified bodies.

This ‘zombie antelope‘ look was outrageous and we laughed until our lungs hurt and tears rolled down our faces.

So we drove away, still laughing at what we had just witnessed. Luckily, we could actually see some lovely, living antelope a few weeks later, when we visited Mikumi National Park.


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