Through a generous donation, we now have a vulture character to add to our cast of talking critters. Vultures are interesting animals in that they are scavengers, eating dead animals. Biologists widely consider the vulture a member of “nature’s sanitation crew” along with many other “garbage eaters” like raccoons, skunks, opossums, termites, maggots and a wide variety of other creatures.
So why is a garbage eater a good thing? Well, in the case of the vulture, they essentially help get rid of the carcasses of dead animals. Without them, it would take a terribly long time for a dead animal to rot away. They would pile up and thusly spread diseases and fill the air with terrible odors. Vultures speed up the process, eating the tissues and reducing the carcass to bones.
It was fitting, I felt, that we name our vulture character Stinky. As per his backstory, he will help run the Nature’s Sanitation Crew and spread the message about the good these birds and other animals in the ‘crew’ do for the environment.
Of course, the costume (just the mask and the feet in this case) were designed to be scary, something more for Halloween than nature programs. It was created by Zagone Studios, a very spooky and wild Halloween accessory company specializing in adult sized costumes and masks. Their vulture, along with a wide variety of monsters, werewolves/big bad wolves, spooky styled birds and even a crazed chicken, is sure to send a chill up the spine of passersby on Halloween night. So how does one take a scary costume and turn it friendly?
Well, it’s not going to be easy. Vultures, to start with, aren’t pretty birds. This is especially true of turkey vultures with their big red featherless heads. And while Zagone didn’t make the mask monstrous, the realism and large eyes are a real sight. I worked on refurbishing an old black-furred body suit that was donated to us a year ago and made a set of black and gray tail feathers and winged gloves. Once I had all of that completed, I had to figure out his outfit and get a preliminary photo/video. I thought at first he would look good in an old leather jacket with a red t-shit with a hawk’s face on it underneath but it made him look too much like a punk.
We picked up a plain white shirt and a tan outdoorsy vest today which we’ll try on soon. We’re hoping he’ll look a bit more approachable this way. Of course, that still leaves his mask. We might give him a hat or bandana to wear and repaint parts of the eyes—carefully of course so I can still see out of it while in the mask. And, we might change the voice. I initially pictured Stinky having a rough, gravelly voice with a hint of a Brooklyn accent but that might still come off as scary from this sort of character. I might have to really think this over.
Stinky the Vulture will debut sometime in late October.