There’s one thing Kendall Long wants to get right out of the way: “I’ve never killed anything,” she says. As an ardent collector of taxidermy, that’s something she’s been prompted to clear up ever since talking about her hobby on national television, as a contestant on the Bachelor season 22 (as well as Bachelor in Paradise season 5).
“The initial reaction I got when people saw the taxidermy episode on the Bachelor was… a lot of hate,” she says. “A lot of people thought I was a big hunter. It’s funny because I’m actually a pescatarian, almost a vegetarian.”
As Long, who grew up in Santa Clarita, explains it, “I was always obsessed with nature. I guess just collecting dead animals came along with that.” Further, she says, “I feel like I have an eye for bones… I would bring things home all the time. I think it got to a certain point where my parents realized it wasn’t a phase.”
At its most basic level, Long says, “I just think of taxidermy as the art of nature. I feel like I’m collecting sculptures or paintings. It’s the exact same thing.”
Among the stuffed creatures in her collection: Sheba, a ram’s head; Beaver the badger; Victoria, “my bat inside the jar”; and Leonidas, “the pig inside the jar.”
That particular item is the one that folks usually find the most disturbing, she says. “The one piece of taxidermy that freaks people out the most is my pickled fetus pig, I think because it might look so much like a human.”
Also among the artfully stuffed animals in her collection: a mounted goat’s head, a rabbit, “a bunch of bugs,” coyote skulls, cat skulls, and a boar’s head, which was the first piece she ever got. “He has a missing tooth and he’s kind of cracked in the ears and he’s all like messed-up looking and… my face hurt so much from smiling after I got him,” Long admits.
She’s also got a pair of stuffed ducklings — one of which, Ping, she took around the world with her while filming The Bachelor. “He’s been to Paris, Peru, and he’s been to Italy, so he’s like the little traveling duckling,” she says.
She’s not sure how much she’s spent altogether on her collection, but explains, “A lot of the taxidermy I get, I get secondhand. So I wouldn’t say I spend too much…but taxidermy is definitely not cheap. I think the most I’ve spent was probably about $300 for a piece.”
On the Bachelor, during her hometown date episode, she took Arie Luyendyk, Jr., to a huge taxidermy warehouse. “We were able to mount a rat, and it was my first time actually making taxidermy, she recalls. But a bigger test of taxidermy-meets-dating is yet to come.
“My boyfriend Joe and I are moving in together, and a huge area of discussion is how I’m going to be showcasing all of my taxidermy,” Long says. “I feel like our house will never be the huge Natural History Museum house, because Joe can only take so much taxidermy.”
Finally, addressing the idea of her hobby being creepy, Long says, “I think the reason why I collect taxidermy isn’t because of the morbid side of it. It’s more so life. I mean, it’s sad that things have to die, but everything dies. And I believe that when something does die its body is no longer a part of what it is. The body is more like the shell. And it’s a beautiful shell you can save.”
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