With almost 140 individual mounts and no exact duplications of animals, this is one of the finest natural history exhibits found in any museum. William A. Bond was a Vernon farmer and rancher whose roots reach far back into Vernon's history. A passionate booster and tireless worker for all things good for Vernon, Bond was an avid sportsman, collector of Civil War artifacts and an original member of the Santa Rosa Palomino Club.
After his return from World War II in 1945, and for the rest of his life, he went on a major hunt somewhere in the world each year. Possibly the animals most often mentioned as favorites among the visitors are the ones we will see here in our abbreviated tour.
The Polar Bear is considered to be the most intelligent of bears. Often a hunter will lose sight of his quarry in the snow and ice, only to find the polar bear behind him...doing the tracking! Note the black eyes, nose and mouth...the black pads and claws...since those features stand out sharply in contrast to the all-white landscape, how do you suppose he tricks his prey and manages to get enough to eat?
The Rhino was not scheduled on the trip he took in 1960 in Kenya. However, when the Game Warden asked for his help in taking down two rhinos which had trampled crops and huts, killing a native and generally wreaking havoc in the area, he readily agreed. The story of the tracking of these dangerous animals that led through tunnels of grass higher than the men's heads, tells of one of the most frightening and dangerous of all his hunts.
The Saiga antelope is an animal that was known to prehistoric man. The most unusual thing about it is the enormous nose! Like all things in nature, it serves as a direct link to the animal's ability to exist in its chosen habitat. Found only in Siberia and on the Russian Steppes, the Saiga must be equipped to handle temperatures that commonly reach 60 degrees below zero. The large "nose" acts as a warming oven and allows the Saiga to breathe in the super chilled air. When this mount arrived in 1988, the Red River Valley Museum was the second museum in the United States to exhibit the Saiga. Russia had closed the doors to foreign hunters in 1908, fearing that the Saiga would becom extinct. How the numbers reached between four and five million in just 80 years is a fascinating story!
These are but three of the dozens of stories in this room. You are invited to come and hear more about them!