Stewardship

Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

National Collection of Heads and Horns

 

Sportsmen of the late 1800s were witness to the “Era of Extermination” of the nation’s wildlife and were the first to demand change. Most citizens were largely unaware that after unregulated and relentless killing, the nation’s wildlife was in grave condition. The New York Zoological Society—an organization formed by Boone and Crockett Club and led by B&C members William T. Hornaday and Madison Grant—formulated a plan to create a depository of outstanding big game trophies from around the world to preserve for future generations…before it was too late.

In 1906, the National Collection of Heads and Horns was formed with the collection growing to nearly 700 specimens by 1910. Not more than a dozen years later, a special building in New York City’s Bronx Zoo was constructed to house the display. At the May 1922 opening of the new museum, the collection was officially dedicated “In Memory of the Vanishing Big Game the World.”  

It may have just been a taxidermy display, but it ignited the public support for conservation, which directly led to the successes in conservation we see today. It also proved that trophies had a lasting significance to conservation.

Changing philosophies at the zoo led to the closing of the exhibit. B&C salvaged many of the North American specimens, which eventually found a new home at the NRA’s Firearms Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1978. The Collection was relocated to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, in 1982. 

Today the collection is part of Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. It is a most befitting home because the National Collection could very well have been named a Wonders of Wildlife exhibit from the beginning. Such public displays are a constant reminder that conservation matters to everyone.

The National Collection of Heads and Horns is indeed part of the history of North American conservation, which itself is the greatest story never told.


To learn about the detailed history and current status of B&C's National Collection of Heads and Horns, download and read this four-part series that appeared in Fair Chase magazine.

 

 

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt