Tim’s liver, spleen, lungs, kidney and heart to be preserved, says scientist (Kenya)


Gilbert Koech, The Star

Date Published

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Portions of liver, spleen, lungs, kidney and heart belonging to Tim, the deceased celebrity elephant, will be preserved at the National Museums, the Star has learnt.

Tim, 51, died in Mada area of Amboseli National Park on Tuesday morning, apparently of natural causes.

Taxidermist Bernard Agwanda, however, said Tim’s internal organs were not good as it was delivered to them days after it had died. However, potions of liver, spleen, lungs, kidney and heart have been secured.

“They are under minus 80 degrees Celsius,” Agwanda said. 
Agwanda said the preserved organs will help create history on such things as pathogens, what the giant elephant had been feeding on, among other things.
The tail hair has also been preserved.

Elephants can on average live for 40 to 60 years in their natural habitat. However, there is evidence suggesting that in some isolated cases, in Kenya for example, they have lived up to 80-90 years.

Following Tim’s deaath, authorities decided that he be preserved by taxidermists at the National Museums of Nairobi. His body will be preserved for educational and exhibition purposes. The remains arrived at the museum on Thursday morning aboard a KWS flat truck. Tests were immediately run to determine if the body is suitable for taxidermy. Its skin was removed the same day. “We have to race against time to remove the skin as it is very sensitive,” Agwanda said. 

Taxidermy involves creating lifelike models. It involves the removal, cleaning, preserving and filling the skins of dead animals with a special material to make them look as if they are still alive. 

Agwanda said yesterday that Tim’s skin is completely buried in one of the labs. “We completed the skinning on Thursday and we are now treating the skin with alkaline salt,” he said. The treatment will take two months. He added that Tim’s bones and flesh were separated on Friday.”The bones are undergoing treatment,” he said.

Because of the huge size of the bones, treatment will be made twice to make them lighter and remove all the flesh. This is estimated to take two to three months.

“The right tusk was 60 kgs while the left one was 73 kgs,” he said.

He said the mounting is set to start in the next six to seven months and will cost Sh2 million to Sh3 million. Once mounted, Tim’s replica will be in Nairobi and will stand for 100 years.

It will however not wear its tusks as they have been secured by the KWS.

Tim was one of Africa’s last great tuskers roaming southern Kenya, mostly in the Mada area.