Every artist has their tools, every brush stroke tells a story. As Shane Loshek sets to work on his next project, he's not painting a canvass or chiseling stone. Shane is a Taxidermist who spends most of his time on local animals and hunting trophies, but was recently tapped to retouch more than 20 exotic animals at Winona National Bank, "This is the biggest job I've even done," says Loshek.
From lions to rhinos, big elephant ears to tiny creatures, Loshek is breathing new life into animals that have stood still for a lifetime. "They came here in 1924," says bank President Jack Richter, "so a little bit more than 90 years."
They were trophies from an African safari by the King family, who still owns much of Winona National. They spent weeks in Tanzania and brought back dozens of exotic animals. They have become the symbol of the bank, known by many in the community to be the Lion Bank. "Virtually every Spring all the students in the school district come," says Richter, "and they tour the animals and they get to see some of the animals from Africa that they would never see up close."
"When I was a child walking through this bank and coming up here and seeing these things," says Loshek, "you know, 8 years old, I always kept saying to my mom, 'let's go to the lion bank' cause I always wanted to see these animals."
After decades under glass they needed some work, but not as much as you'd might expect. Loshek says they are still in extremely good shape for their age, part of the reason was the painstaking work of the original taxidermist nine decades ago.
The work was done by the James L. Clark company. Clark was a well-known taxidermist of his time who worked for the National Museum in D.C. and even Teddy Roosevelt. That makes Shane's work that much more important. "You don't want to take the original taxidermist work away," Loshek says, "you don't want to mess anything up cause it's irreplaceable."
So whether it's a Q-Tip to liven up an eye or hair spray to poof up a lion mane, Leshick is getting these amazing animals ready for the next century.
Loshek isn't sure how long the project will take. Depending on how much work they need each separate animal can take several hours, or several days.