During the 1940’s, Maude was the most famous animal at Manchester’s Belle Vue Zoo.
Born to a male Manchurian Tiger and an African Lioness (hence the name Tigon), Maude was one of two Tigon offspring born in Dresden Zoo in 1932. Maude, the female cub, also had a male sibling, Kilou.
In 1936, Gerald Iles, who managed Belle Vue Zoo, brought both Kilou and Maude over to Manchester and for six years, visitors were lucky enough to be able to set eyes on two of the rarest of animals. Sadly, in 1942, Kilou passed away. However Maude lived until December 1949 and following her death, Iles arranged for Maude’s skin to be preserved so that she could go on display at Manchester Museum, where he had studied Zoology.
The first Tigon to go on display in a UK museum for around 100 years, Iles described Maude in a letter to the Museum in 1950: “During her lifetime here, Maude was always greatly admired and I would say loved by a very great number of our visitors. She was always quiet and good-mannered and always appeared to be perfectly groomed.”
Even though the specimen had been donated to Manchester Museum for display, the skin was never mounted, but kept rolled up in a store. Due to its age, the process of taxidermy has therefore been a very delicate and challenging operation, as well as the most rewarding job for the skilled taxidermist who undertook this extraordinary commission.
Head of Collections and Curator of Zoology at Manchester Museum, Henry McGhie, said “Maude was far too beautiful and unusual an animal for her remains to be kept away in a storeroom. We want people to be able to admire her, and to hear more about the now-forgotten time when Manchester was home to such unusual animals. I hope that people will find her story as fascinating as we do.”
‘Maude’ is on display at Manchester Museum
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