11-Year-Old's 'Taxidermy' Hobby Is Oddly Delightful (VIDEO)

taxidermyKids have hobbies like riding bikes, playing soccer, or crafting jewelry out of beads. Eleven-year-old Mackenzie McCarty's hobbies include Girl Scouts, bowling, archery, and taxidermy. Yes, Mackenzie does taxidermy -- the dead stuff. Steve Harvey had the adorable kid (who is now 12) on his show and she talked all about her love of preserving dead critters, which began when she was 9 and her mom's five pet squirrels died. (I love this family already.)

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Don't worry. It's not as weird as it sounds. Mackenzie's dad cut down a tree and a mother squirrel left her newborns so the family from Warminster, Pennsylvania, took them in to take care of them. She's an animal lover. And her love transcended into the dead animals when mom took her to get those squirrels taxidermied after they had died.

Mackenzie told Steve when she was on his show and also the local news that she is "strictly no kill" and that she sees these animals as "sleeping." She gets mice from the pet store (after they have already passed on) and she's even worked with finely preserved road kill. Her mom Brenda told the Courier Times that her daughter "wants the dead to come alive in her own unique way." Speaking of the dead, as in The Walking Dead, Kenzie even made one in honor of Daryl Dixon. In the video, that's the quirrel with the crossbow.

I love how encouraging her parents are even though mom admits that she and dad don't like helping their daughter snap bones when she has to tear the little critters' bodies apart to do her scooping and stuffing. She admits that only three of her friends are kind of cool with her hobby, but she doesn't care. Most of the kids are creeped out by it, including her art teacher who thinks it's disturbing. Oh come on! It's an art form. Kenzie must be the coolest kid in town. She knows what she likes and isn't afraid to be herself.

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I'm all about encouraging my kids to follow their dreams ... even if their dreams are taxidermy. Sure, it's dead animals, but it is an art ... and it could be lucrative. You know how many super cool bars would want taxidermy as decor? Lots. But the bottom line is as parents, we should never ever should squash our kiddo's dreams and I love that the McCarty family is encouraging their daughter. What kind of example would it be if she was told "no you can't do that"? That could destroy a kid's spirit, her confidence, her love of creativity. We should always encourage and say, yes, you can. (Within reason, of course.) This allows our kids to dream big, be big thinkers, and have confidence and success.

Good luck, Kenzie! I sure love your stuff and your spirit.

What would you do if your kid showed an interest in taxidermy? How have you let your kids follow their dreams no matter how off-beat?


Image via Suzanne LaGassa/Flickr

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