Assignment for Mental Floss Magazine

February 22nd, 2013

Mental Floss March/April Cover

March/ April 2013 Issue

Mental Floss magazine asked us if we’d like to shoot a story for them on an “animal crime lab.” It sounded cool and we said “hell yes.” It turned out to be one of the most interesting and possibly bizarre shoots we can remember doing in a while.    With a great deal of creative freedom to shoot and a copy of the story, we walked into U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon.   We got the royal grand tour (which isn’t open to the public) of the facility with Ken Goddard, the Lab’s Director.  (You’ll read more about him in this article.)  The tour took us through evidence rooms, necropsies in progress, DNA testing equipment, a machine that can lift finger prints off of things that have been underwater???  And, other fascinating rooms including rooms to fire off guns into a tank of water to do ballistic tests.  This lab is the only one of its kind in the nation and they do some crazy cool detective work to solve crimes against wildlife, here in the U.S. and throughout the globe.

The work that these scientists do here is impressive.  Plus the stories we were told were freakin crazy and involved worldwide crime syndicates, major busts and of course the real crowd pleaser, CSI where real bad guys get caught by super unreal forensic work!  Read this story!  We shot the nation’s top veterinary pathologist, Tabitha Viner, do a necropsy (an animal autopsy) on a golden eagle that had been through a wind turbine.  We asked if she could fake like wings were attached so we would know it was a bird.   (See the picture on the last page of the Golden Eagle’s talons.)  In the morphology room we shot alligator purses and ash trays made from elephant feet, monkey hands and of course tiger skulls. Read the story?  The story mentions tiger penis’ but we didn’t see one of those and I can’t decide if I’m bummed or relieved by that missed op!  Potential testosterone builder?

Thank you to Ken, Tabitha, and all those who take on the job of solving the crimes against our globe’s birds, fishes, and animals!  Sort of like an animal Lorax facility.  And thanks to Winslow Taft our Art Director and Rob Culpepper for giving us this assignment.  Lastly, we’d highly recommend checking out the Mental Floss T-shirt’s for sale and can say they are pretty damned funny!

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