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SLOHS Has a Taxidermy Tiger: But Where is it?


The missing Bengal Tiger in a SLOHS classroom several years ago. Photo courtesy of chemistry teacher Rowan Lowden. 

  Many San Luis Obispo High School students don’t know that San Luis Obispo had a taxidermy tiger. Shot by Clem L. Lessie from the SLOHS class of 1928, the tiger was gifted to the school in 1960. Since then, the tiger sat in one of the science buildings before construction on the new science building began. 

  Once construction started, the tiger seemingly disappeared.

  The concept of SLOHS owning a taxidermy animal of an endangered species which at one point may have had a population less than that of the school has conflicted students for years.

  “I think taxidermy is morally wrong… [but] you can’t un-taxidermy a tiger,” said junior Leo DeTurris.

  Regardless, the tiger exists, but where is it?

  Originally, the tiger was gifted to the SLOHS Science Department. For many years this meant the tiger was simply sitting in the back of a classroom. 

  Most recently the tiger was in Jenny Macartney’s classroom, then Rowan Lowden’s.

  Then when construction started on the new building, the tiger, likely valued at several tens of thousands of dollars, was seemingly lost from the Science Department’s grasp. 

  “Construction was happening during the 20-21 school year and it was in my room. It disappeared when the science teachers moved into the new science wing before the 21-22 school year,” said chemistry teacher Rowan Lowden.

  Expressions looked into this and it seems that for around three years the tiger has been sitting in the office of the director of building grounds transportation and measure coordinator. 

  “[The] Tiger has been in my office since we started the construction of the 100 building,” said Director of Building Grounds Transportation and Measure-D Coordinator Chris Bonin.

  Construction ended in the science wing before the 2021 school year started, this means that the tiger has been in an office instead at SLOHS for more than two and half years since construction ended.

  However, returning the tiger might be an even longer process. 

  “The tiger is going to a taxidermist to be touched up and cleaned. I also have a special secure display box made to protect the tiger after it is reinstalled on-site. After this is completed the tiger will be returned… Hopefully, over the summer we will work with the site to find a suitable location.  Most likely will be in the Student Support Building, Commons, or Library,” said Bonin.

  This is particularly important because of the tiger’s importance.

  Currently, it is illegal to trade, buy, or sell parts of an endangered species in the United States. On the black market, however, these types of things, taxidermy tigers, can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

   Furthermore, the tiger may have been killed during a hunting party that involved Dr. Edison A. French, as in the doctor who founded the French Hospital. 

  The tiger was killed more than sixty years ago, it has a deep history and it’s important to the school.

  However, this still doesn’t quite explain why it has taken nearly three years to get the tiger back to our campus. 

  For many, this seems incredibly overdue. At the schedule Bonin created, this means that the tiger would have been absent from the new 100s building three years after construction was finished.

  The fact that a highly valued asset at SLOHS was missing for so long may be concerning. 

  In any scenario, the tiger was donated to the school, and SLOHS students should be able to see it. 



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Aidan Field, Web Editor
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