The first set of 155 small taxidermies came from the collection of local donor Wayne Milligan, a former ASU faculty member. The focus of the collection is species native to Texas, but it also features specimens from around the world. The specimens range from turkeys, ducks and various other birds and fowl – to snakes and numerous large and small mammals.
The second set of donated specimens contains only two items, but they are easily the most impressive in size: full-body, mounted taxidermies of a 14-foot Nile crocodile and a male African lion. Previously stored in a Florida warehouse, the specimens were donated by a private collector who thought they would be better served at a museum or educational institution.
ASU alum Adam Ferguson, a collection manager at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, heard about the collection’s availability and helped facilitate the donation of the crocodile and lion specimens to ASU. Several specimens from the collection also went to the Natural Science Research Laboratory at the Museum of Texas Tech University.
The ASNHC are maintained by the ASU Department of Biology and contain more than 150,000 specimens of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and plants from the Concho Valley, other regions of Texas, many other states, Mexico, Africa, Asia, Australia and even the Galápagos Islands. The collections aid student and faculty research projects, are used as teaching tools, and have been viewed by thousands of K-12 students through special guided tours.
In 2012, ASU was awarded a $480,865 grant from the National Science Foundation to modernize and digitize the ASNHC and make all the specimens available to researchers and educators around the globe on worldwide online databases. The project was completed in July 2016.