CENTERPORT, N.Y., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A whale shark caught 73 years ago off Fire Island in New York has gone back on display at a museum, 12 years after the exhibit was shut down.
The Diorama Hall at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, N.Y., had been closed since leaks were discovered in 1996, Newsday reported. The 32-foot shark, possibly the world's largest animal preserved through taxidermy, was in such bad shape that the museum considered getting rid of it.
"The condition of the whale shark was atrocious," said David Schwendeman, who operates a taxidermy studio in Milltown, N.J. "I think of taxidermy as the ultimate in terms of conservation and wise use of our natural resources, and trying to save this, being considered one of America's treasures -- probably the world's largest mounted fish, maybe the largest piece of taxidermy in the world -- I felt it was worthy of saving."
William K. Vanderbilt II created the Diorama Hall, which opened in 1929, for animals he had collected around the world. He bought the 8-ton whale shark after it was caught in 1935 by Arie and Nicholas Schaper of Islip.
The whale shark is the world's largest fish -- and one of the largest animals of any kind.