VIRGINIA

Taxidermy Christmas tree in Danville is up all year-round

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DANVILLE, Va. (AP) - The Christmas tree at the Danville Science Center's Science Station stays up year-round.

But that's not the only unusual thing about the tree.

It's decorated with taxidermic animals from the region.

The stuffed animal ornaments include a screech owl, a red-tailed hawk, a Canadian goose, a mockingbird and an Eastern gray fox. The tree also is decorated with hanging turkey feathers and a hornet nest. A stuffed mink atop the tree serves as the star.

The tree was first put up four years ago by Mack Williams, the center's natural history educator.

"I was in the Christmas spirit and I was trying to figure out what to put on it," Williams told the Danville Register & Bee (http://bit.ly/1dAjct6). "I call it a 'natural Christmas tree.'"

The stuffed animals were brought to the center in 2005 from the former Womack Museum of Natural History at Danville Community College. They were kept in storage at the center until 2009, Williams said.

Visitors have said they have never seen anything like the Christmas tree, he said.

About 200 taxidermic animals are on display for educational purposes at the Science Station, including birds, raccoons, bears and reptiles. There displays also include an Asian water buffalo, a Bengal tiger, a black rhinoceros, a dolphin fish and a Eurasian wild boar.

The Science Station, located in an old train station, functions as the Womack Museum now. It also includes insects, rocks, fossils and sea shells.

The Danville Science Center is a division of the Science Museum of Virginia.

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