Cheetahs, ibex and elephants are not native to North Idaho, but you can still get an up-close look at them in one of the more unique places around. Nate Hart is an English major but his fascination with animals has lead him to an unexpected career as museum owner at Slow Cheetah Skeletons.
“Every skull and bone tells a story, what they ate, injuries, adaptations, and I really enjoying sharing those stories with people,” explained Nate.
The museum exhibit includes skulls and skeletons of creatures found nearby like elk, deer and bears but also lions, tigers and just about every other big game animal found across the world. Nate’s favorite skeleton is his cheetah, which is also where the name of the museum comes from.
One might think that putting together such a huge and varied collection would take Nate to the far reaches of the globe but, in fact, most of what is on display comes to Slow Cheetah Skeletons with relative ease. When an animal dies in captivity, public and private zoos sometimes want to save the bones while on other occasions do not. Nate takes delivery of many of these carcasses and uses his group of flesh-eating beetles to clean up the bones.
“A zoo might send me three or four bones to clean but allow me to keep one or two of them for myself,” said Nate. He adds that there is a staggering amount of private zoos across the country, and when one of their animals die, he can easily take ownership of the skeleton.
Right now Slow Cheetah Skeletons is open by appointment and attracts school and youth groups among others. Nate is currently constructing a complete full-sized giraffe skeleton, and once he is finished he is hoping to offer more traditional hours, likely next spring.
“Living where we live, there is more wildlife than people,” said Nate. “We don’t really have zoos or museums to visit, and I think it’s important for people to learn about animals from around the world and their unique characteristics.”
Nate is aware that his display is out of the ordinary but hopes people will take a tour and come away with memories and a new perspective. “I’d like everyone to go away with a little more interest in the fascinating things that are found all around the world.”
Slow Cheetah Skeletons is a place to see an elephant skull, the inner workings of a chimpanzee and compare your stature to some of the world’s biggest mammals. You’ll be amazed at what is waiting for you once you step through the front door. To schedule a tour you can reach Nate Hart at 208.920.0890, and additional information can be found at SlowCheetahSkeletons.org.