Michigan taxidermist recreates football rivalry

LANSING, Mich. (AP) A Lansing-based taxidermist used the longtime rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan as inspiration for his latest creation.

Nick Saade, a full-time taxidermist for 18 years, recently made a football display with 22 stuffed chipmunks wearing little Spartan and Wolverine helmets. The chipmunks are mounted to a small-scale football field in passing, throwing, catching and tackling positions.

Saade enlisted the help of his son, who's a football coach at Sexton High School, to help him plan the layout and plays in his display.

Saade, who owns Taxidermy by Nick Saade, told the Lansing State Journal (http://on.lsj.com/1ItIUBL ) that display shows the Spartans as they're about to score the winning touchdown, with the chipmunk quarterback winding up to throw the football to his teammate in the end zone.

The Wolverine players from the University of Michigan look ''kind of cool, but everybody knows MSU is better - even the chipmunks,'' Saade said.

Four referees will be added to the display when another one of Saade's relatives, a doll-maker, is finished creating their uniforms.

After the display is complete, Saade plans to sell his creation for $1,500.

''I don't even care if it sells or not. It's just a cute thing,'' he said.

Saade said he doesn't kill animals specifically for his projects, and instead he uses road kill, nuisance animals and leftover parts from the hunting and fishing trophies he makes.

The chipmunks in the football display were trapped by several friends who wanted to rid their cabins of the rodents. When a friend donated a chipmunk, he put it in the freezer, then waited until he collected enough of them for his project.

Other creations Saade has dreamed up are two fencing squirrels, an upright white-tailed doe holding a cocktail tray and a lounging muskrat.

''I basically do this because I love to do it, and I don't like to see any parts of animals wasted,'' he said of his self-taught taxidermy.

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Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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