Everyone grieves in their own way, and when it comes to the loss of a cherished pet that you’ve had for most of your life, it can be more than challenging to come to terms with the thought of never seeing your furry friend again.


But what if you could see them? Every day for the rest of your life?


You might think that when a pet dies, you have to bury it, but you could contact Anni Bruno from TattooedSoprano on Etsy to help mourn the loss of your pet in a new way.


Although the particular hamster above was never anyone’s pet but rather purchased frozen as pet food, Anni Bruno has taxidermied a pet hamster in the past and is expecting “a gigantic pet guinea pig” in the mail any day now.


Some people may think it’s strange, but taxidermy has always been an interest of hers. “As an animal lover,” she said. “It seemed kind of weird to me that you can’t keep a tiger or a bear as a pet, but…guys shoot them and put them in their house.” 


After discovering the work of Walter Potter, who “famously put kittens, squirrels, and other small critters in human poses and clothes, I got interested specifically in anthropomorphic taxidermy.” 


Anthropomorphic taxidermy is “the practice of taking the dead body of an animal, preserved through the art of taxidermy, and displaying it in such a way as to show human characteristics.” 


Bruno has roughly six years of taxidermy experience, and before the pandemic, she was living in New York City working as a makeup artist, while learning about taxidermy and bone cleaning in her free time.

(Photo Credit: Anni Bruno)
(Photo Credit: Anni Bruno)

The taxidermy process always starts with sourcing materials. Bruno said, “I love animals and see them as a resource to be used, appreciated, and loved, so I’m always scavenging for roadkill, asking family and friends to stay on the lookout for any animal parts that would look like garbage to most people.


However, Bruno said, “pet taxidermy is a really tricky thing.”


I can’t remember a time myself when I heard of pet taxidermy, and there’s a reason why.


“Most ‘traditional’ taxidermists won’t touch this art form,” Bruno said. “It’s so difficult to get someone’s pet to look exactly the way it did in life.”


“A pet taxidermist has to exude empathy and love and care and trust,” but Bruno does not claim to be a “pet taxidermist” herself — at least not yet.


“My goal, in working with pets, is to recreate a fun and fantastical portrait of an idealized version of themselves in the afterlife,” she said.


“We all want to think our loved ones have gone to a better place,” Bruno said. “I’m happy to put them in a setting they’d have been happy to stay in, forever."

(Photo Credit: @tattooedsoprano on Instagram)
(Photo Credit: @tattooedsoprano on Instagram)

When Bruno does pet memorials, she puts them in “a setting they’d be happy to stay in forever,” like relaxed on the beach, etc. Bruno is currently working on a pet guinea pig about 14 inches in length. The pet owner said his guinea pig “loved laying in the grass and eating strawberries,” so that is the setting that Bruno will design for the guinea pig memorial. 


If you’ve had a pet cross the Rainbow Bridge and you want to preserve him/her in a unique way, Bruno receives requests from all over the country on her Etsy page TattoedSoprano

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