Whatever our motives, we are by no means the first to fall under the spell of taxidermy. Far older, far more politically correct peoples, such as Native Americans, kept the skins of their kills for an assortment of reasons, not all utilitarian. Along with mummifying pharaohs, Egyptian embalmers preserved dogs and cats to accompany the various Tuts on their celestial voyages. The oldest known taxidermied animal still in existence, according to Christopher Frost in_ A History of British Taxidermy_, is a 400-year-old rhinoceros in the Royal Museum of Vertebrates in Florence. An African gray parrot that pined away in 1702 shortly after the death of its mistress, the Duchess of Richmond, perches today in England's Westminster Abbey Museum.