Meet the staff… No.3 – Natalie

Inside the cocoon there are many people busy with various aspects of the Museum’s redevelopment and day-to-day activity. We’d like to introduce you to some of them. Here  we meet Conservator, Natalie Jones.

Wasp Nest

What is your role in the Museum?

Conservator – I currently work on packing up the collections alongside our fantastic team of volunteers ready to move into the new stores. Once this is done we will start working on the conservation, cleaning, stabilisation and repair of the specimens, ready for redisplay in 2016.

What’s your favourite animal?

Ooh, its hard to pick just one! Probably the Flamingo or the Fruit bat…

A flamboyance of Flamingos on a lake. Photo: Gretchen Freund

A flamboyance of Flamingos on a lake. Photo: Gretchen Freund

What’s your favourite specimen here at the Museum?

I love the forlorn porpoise. It is in need of some TLC and attention in the conservation lab and I can’t wait to start work on it. It is quite unusual to see a taxidermy preserved porpoise (or other cetacean) as they are so difficult to preserved due to the oils in their skins – you will normally see models of these animals instead.

Our poor old Porpoise, patiently waiting for some expert TLC.

Our poor old Porpoise, patiently waiting for some expert TLC.

What is the most enjoyable part of your working day?

It’s hard to say as each day is so different! The most satisfying time was when we finally finished moving the spirit store! We had over 18,000 jars to move into temporary stores and it was the most challenging task I’ve ever done! In total we moved over 13,000kg of crates full of specimens – the approximate weight of a large whale shark! You can read about how we did it here:

What is the most unusual job you’ve ever had?

Probably this one! Every day is different and the daily tasks can be anything from moving a huge asian elephant, packing up a giant wasps nest or glueing small magnets to the bases of hundreds of birds.

What is the most exciting thing you have ever done?

I once went snorkeling and scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef on Christmas Eve in a santa hat! Scuba diving around the reef and experiencing the beauty and colours of the corals and wildlife was an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.

Natalie (r) and friend on their Christmas Eve snorkeling expedition.

Natalie (r) and friend on their Christmas Eve snorkeling expedition.

If you could work at any other museum in the world, which would it be?

I would love to work at Grant Museum of Zoology. It is such a unique museum and they have such fantastic collections including one of only seven known Quagga skeletons.

Quagga skeleton at the Grant Museum, London.

Quagga skeleton at the Grant Museum, London.


What do you like doing in your free time?

I love travelling; I’m surrounded by creatures from all over the world so it’s a thrill to get out there and see them out in the wild, especially when I’m ready with a camera.

If you could bring any creature back from extinction, which would it be?

The Huia – Huia were hunted to extinction for their feathers with the last official, confirmed huia sighting being on 28 December 1907. They were beautiful birds with a bold and inquisitive nature. A remarkable feature of the species was the difference in size and shape of the bill so much so that it was once thought that the male and female belonged to different species. Other factors such as introduced predators and habitat loss contributed to their extinction, but a major factor was hunting. Treasured by Māori, huia and particularly their feathers were highly valued and sought after. Once huia feathers had been introduced to Europe, at the height of the plume trade, the fate of the birds was sealed.

Huia-Huia bird.

Huia-Huia bird.

Do you have a role model?

I’ve always had admiration for the naturalist Joy Adamson. The novel Born Free and the subsequent film has always captivated me. I think she led an extraordinary life and helped to change attitudes towards animals and hunting, challenging the conventional view of wild animals as being without personalities, emotions or individual rights. Her work with Elsa the lioness was inspirational and definitely encouraged my interest in the animal world.

Joy Adamson with Elsa.

Joy Adamson with Elsa the Lioness.

Describe what it is like working at the Museum in three words.

Varied, fun, gratifying.




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