From the outside, Bischoff's Taxidermy & Animal FX looks like all the other buildings next to the 5 freeway in Los Angeles. Inside, however, is a museum-worthy collection of more than 600 taxidermy pieces, ranging from full-size stuffed lions to spare legs, heads, and animal carcasses.
Bischoff's opened in 1922 as a specialty taxidermy shop for Hollywood stars returning from hunting expeditions, but after several decades, the shop shifted their focus to film productions. Bischoff's now functions mainly as a rental house and special effects custom shop, fabricating animals for use as props, animatronics, and lifelike substitutes for real animals. (They also do private custom orders for the occasional pet owner who wants their dead cat freeze-dried and stuffed.) If an animal gets killed in a movie or TV show, chances are Bischoff's made the stunt double. Recently, they've created animal props for Sons of Anarchy, The Lone Ranger, and The Revenant. The CSI franchise is a regular customer, as they're constantly in need of Bischoff's rats.
Some of the vintage specimens date back to as early as the 1930s, and the wear and tear from rental use is visible. Gary Robbins, the current owner, told me the lion has had his ears glued back on several times and that stab wounds and fake blood stains are common. When an animal comes back from a shoot stained or beat-up, he said, he and his crew simply mend it and return it to the shelf, where it sits perfectly still, in lifelike glory.
See more of Nate Miller's work here.