The Hansen Collection Brings Wildlife to PUC

By Brydon Marks on November 13, 2007

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On the terrace level of Clark Hall, the recently rebuilt biology department building at Pacific Union College, there is a special room in which visitors come within inches of over 40 species of wild animals. Protected only by a velvet rope, viewers can gaze into the gentle eyes of a cape buffalo, a black wildebeest, or a sable antelope, or can stand beneath the monumental head of a real elephant. The adventurous can even find themselves face to face with a prowling mountain lion, a snarling tiger, or a roaring bear - Oh my! This unique experience is contained in the Hansen Collection, a special collection of stuffed game animals from around the world now on permanent display at PUC.

The Hansen Collection is a rare gathering of large animals from North America, Africa, and Asia. Kodiak and polar bears stand as silent sentinels at the doors of the exhibit, and a leopard, tiger, and mountain lion, lurk about the corners of the room, anticipating the coming arrival of a jaguar from South America. The museum boasts a prized "grand slam" of the four North American mountain sheep - the Rocky Mountain bighorn, the desert bighorn, the Dall sheep, and the stone sheep - on one wall, while representatives of African wildlife are mounted opposite them. From the majestic elk to the grinning hippopotamus, from the colossal giant eland to the delicate Indian deer, from the beautiful red deer of Czechoslovakia to the exotic black nilgai, the collection is a safari into the gentle magnificence of the natural world.

Terry Trivett, Ph.D., chair of PUC's biology department, describes the exhibit as "an unusual collection for a school of this size." Some of the specimens are rated in the Boone and Crocket Trophy Book, and some, like the desert bighorn sheep, are on the endangered species list and were obtained before the existence of today's protective laws. The Hansen Collection was given as a gift to PUC by Wilmer Hansen, an alumnus who acquired the animals over 30 years of travel and sport hunting. Now, these majestic trophy animals are now an educational resource and a reminder of the importance of conserving the world's wildlife and their habitats.

The collection is part of the Donald V. Hemphill Museum of Natural History, an educational compilation of more than one thousand animal specimens, including smaller mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Housed in a laboratory in Clark Hall, the Hemphill Museum serves students of zoology, ornithology, vertebrate and natural history, allowing direct observation and comparison of the many different species and families represented.

The public is invited to visit the Hansen Collection and share the rare experience of viewing these beautiful, exotic, and often dangerous animals up close. In order to facilitate this experience, the professors of PUC will be opening the collection to the public from 2:30 - 4:00 p.m., one Saturday each month for the duration of the school year - February 20, March 13, April 17, and May 15. Although Dr. Trivett cautions that some especially sensitive children may be bothered by the nature of the collection, families are welcome.