Today I helped skin a mountain lion (Felis concolor). This one was brought in to our museum by Fish and Wildlife after being hit by a car on the local highway back in November of 2012. As such we expected some pretty massive internal damage, but were happy to find that the only major damage was to the head (I am in no way saying that I am happy this beautiful animal died). Our lion was a fully grown male, roughly 7 years old and weighing 127 pounds! Nose to tip of tail he was 209cm, that's almost 7 feet. Suffice to say, this is a large animal. From our necropsy we determined that this was a very healthy cat, he ate enough to build up fat on his tail. There were 5 of us skinning it under the guidance of the master, aka the Curator of Vertebrate Zoology. To skin and deflesh the bones took us about 3 hours.
The following pictures detail the skinning. WARNING!!! THIS IS GRAPHIC!!!
The big guy on the dissection table. The leg tag is from Fish and Wildlife.
Weighing him on a hydrolic-lift scale . He looks stiff because he's still a little frozen.
Facial tumor, did not appear to be cancerous.
The red lines are the basic cuts to skin an animal for a rolled study skin. Once each limb is free all the way around, the paws are freed from the digits. Then the skin is freed from the main body.
Beginning to skin the mountain lion
This is the fully skinned body. You can see the fascia on the lower back. The muscles on this guy were massive. At this point the skin is free from the body and the head can be skinned. To do this the skin is pulled over the head like an inside-out sock and carefully sliced away from facial features.
This is the eye. All dark tissue around it is the hemorrhaging from the impact, basically bruising. The blood is under the fascia layer within the tissue. At this point we let the curator take over because the hemorrhaging made it difficult to carefully remove the eyelids, lips, and ear.
The skull. The nose is visible above the mouth. There is blood in the mouth making it appear dirty. The cartilage part of the nose stays with the study skin along with the lips, ears, and eyelids.
The skin will be defleshed further using a rotating wire brush. Then it will be salted and left to dry. At this point it is sent to the tanner who returns it to us all nice and ready for storing. We took tissue samples of the heart, liver, muscle, and lung; these will go into our frozen tissue collection. The skeleton will be boiled then left to macerate for a few weeks. It will be washed and cleaned then numbered and is ready for shelving.