Taxidermy of Animals in Singapore: Is It Legal?

Last updated on June 17, 2022

taxidermised animals on display

What is Taxidermy?

Taxidermy is the preservation of a dead animal via preparing, stuffing and/or mounting, for the purpose of display or study. Derived from the Greek words taxis meaning “arrangement”, and derma meaning “skin”, taxidermy usually involves arranging a dead animal’s real skin over an artificial “body” made from silicon, cotton or other materials to make the animal look alive.

If you are interested in taxidermy, read on to find out more about the ins and outs of the craft, and the ways in which you can keep taxidermised animals legally in Singapore. This article will discuss:

Why Might People Use Taxidermy? 

Display and education

If you have visited a national history museum, you might have noticed taxidermised animals on display. Taxidermy allows dead animals to be preserved and displayed so that museum visitors and scientists are able to see what an animal looked like when it was alive.

Apart from display, taxidermy can also promote education. For instance, Sheba, a former polar bear at the Singapore Zoo, was taxidermised after she died in 2012. Her body has since been preserved and displayed at the zoo, as a part of the zoo’s public education programme.

Scientific discovery

Taxidermy is also crucial for the development of science and the discovery of wildlife. Because body parts like the skin, skull and teeth are preserved when an animal is taxidermised, scientists are able to derive all sorts of useful information from them, including the size, colour and texture of a particular animal.

In fact, taxidermy enabled scientists to discover the platypus in the 1700s. When illustrations of the platypus first surfaced, many scientists thought it was a hoax as they were shocked to find an animal that looked like a mole with a duck’s bill attached to it. Although some scientists suspected that someone had glued the different animal parts together as a joke, they eventually discovered that platypuses were in fact real animals, after looking at the taxidermy mounts of platypuses.

Sentimental purposes

If you are a pet owner, taxidermy also offers you the option of immortalising your pet, so that you can keep them by your side instead of burying or cremating them after their death.

Is Taxidermy Allowed in Singapore? 

Taxidermy is allowed in Singapore as long as it uses ethical and legal means.

For one, the animals used in taxidermy must be ethically sourced. This means that they cannot be killed for the sake of taxidermy, and must have died a natural death before they are handed over for taxidermy. Some taxidermists also refrain from performing taxidermy on endangered and protected animals such as lions, tigers and otters (even if the animals may be ethically sourced) as the public may find doing so to be controversial.

While you do not require a licence to perform taxidermy in Singapore, the intentional killing of wildlife (whether for taxidermy purposes or otherwise) may risk contravening section 5C of the Wildlife Act. Those found guilty will be liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 6 months for a first offence. The maximum penalties are doubled if you commit the offence in the course of running a taxidermy business in Singapore.

Alternatively, if the taxidermised animal had been from a protected wildlife species, then the penalties are increased to a fine of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

Can I Bring a Taxidermised Product Into Singapore From Overseas? 

Given the limited range of taxidermised animals and wildlife in Singapore, you may wish to import taxidermised products from overseas.

However, do note that the import of such products is subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement ensuring that trade does not threaten wildlife with extinction, of which Singapore is a signatory. Therefore, if you are importing taxidermised products derived from wildlife species listed as CITES species, you will be required to obtain: 

  • An export/re-export permit from the exporting/re-exporting country; and
  • A CITES permit from NParks. 

Examples of CITES animal species include lions, wolves, zebras, gazelles and various types of monkeys.

Any wildlife product you are importing must also comply with NParks/Animal & Veterinary Services (AVS)’s health requirements, to ensure that the product is properly treated and free from diseases.

As a result, you will be required to provide AVS with a taxidermy/trophy certificate and a health certificate. The taxidermy/trophy certificate should indicate the scientific name of the animal species from which the product was derived, the country of origin of the animal, and the name and address of the supplier.

On the other hand, the health certificate should certify that the animal product has been obtained from clinically healthy animals. The treatment process underwent by the animals (e.g. chemical treatment, fumigation or salting of reptile skins) should also be indicated briefly.

Lastly, the taxidermised product you are importing will be subject to examination by NParks/AVS and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) upon arrival at Singapore’s customs. It is only after the authorities have granted clearance that the product can be kept and used in Singapore.

Undeniably, taxidermy serves a wide range of commercial and educational purposes. Not only can it be used to educate and advance scientific development, but it also enables you to preserve the sentimental value of your pets after they die.

If you are interested in taxidermy, we hope that this article has given you greater insight on how you can go about it in Singapore. However, do note that killing or hurting wildlife for the purposes of taxidermy is strictly prohibited. If you are importing taxidermy products from overseas, do also ensure that you comply with NParks’ regulations.

If you have been charged with an offence while carrying out taxidermy in Singapore, you may engage a criminal lawyer for legal assistance. A lawyer can provide you with in-depth legal advice on your charge and advise you on your legal options moving forward. The lawyer can also represent you in any subsequent criminal proceedings and assist you with obtaining a fair outcome for your case.

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