Roosevelt seeks taxidermists to go with him on an African safari.
To Charles Doolittle Walcott
June 20, 1908
My dear Mr. Walcott:
About the 1st of April next I intend to start for Africa. My plans are of course indefinite, but at present I hope they will be something on the following order: By May 1st I shall land at Mombasa and spend the next few months hunting and traveling in British and German East Africa; probably going thence to or toward Uganda, with the expectation of striking the Nile about the beginning of the new year, and then working down it, with side trips after animals and birds, so as to come out at tidewater, say, about March 1st. This would give me ten months on Africa.
As you know, I am not in the least a game butcher. I like to do a certain amount of hunting, but my real and main interest is the interest of a faunal naturalist. Now, it seems to me that this opens the best chance for the National Museum to get a fine collection not only of the big game beasts, but of all the smaller mammals and birds of Africa; and looking at it dispassionately, it seems to me that the chance ought not to be neglected.
I will make arrangements in connection with publishing a book which will enable me to pay for the expenses of myself and my son. But what I would like to do would be to get one or two professional field taxidermists, field naturalist, to go with us, who should prepare and send back the specimens we collect. The collection which would thus go to the National Museum would be of unique value. It would, I hope, include rhinoceros, giraffe, hippopotamus, many of the big antelope, possibly elephant, buffalo, and lion, together with the rare smaller animals and birds. I have not the means that would enable me to pay for the one or two taxidermists and their kit, and the curing and transport of the specimens for the National Museum. But as I say, I doubt if the National Museum would ever again have the chance to get a collection which would be from every standpoint as interesting.
Of course the actual hunting of the big game I would want to do myself, or have my son do; but the specimens would all go to the National Museum, save a very few personal trophies of little scientific value which for some reason I might like to keep. Now, can the National Museum arrange, in view of getting these specimens, for the services of one or two field taxidermists, and for the care and transport of the specimens? Could the money be provided without Congressional action? If not, I would try to get Congress to act by authorizing the expenditure of the comparatively small sum necessary; or it may be that I would be able to get the Carnegie Institute to help.
I shall send a copy of this letter to Mr. Root, because of his connection with the Carnegie Institute. If the National Museum won't do anything in the matter, I may communicate with the American Museum of Natural History of New York; but of course, as ex-President, I should feel that the National Museum is the museum to which my collection should go.
With high regard,
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