“The Elvis Presley of taxidermy.” That’s what fans call Ken Walker, the star of the documentary Big Fur.
Part conspiracy theory, part environmental commentary, and part obsession, this “love story” follows Walker’s personal and artistic journey as he sets out on a fact-finding mission in order to build, true to form and scale, a replica of Bigfoot.
Part crazy? Maybe. But Walker is a believer—and an expert taxidermist, a three-time world champion in the field, who’s recreated extinct and endangered animals for the Smithsonian and the National Zoo, and been featured in National Geographic magazine.
Director Dan Wayne, followed Walker through the process of building and unveiling Patty, his entry in the 2015 World Taxidermy Championships in Springfield, Missouri, and says he’s not sure if the animal exists, but the film has a larger message. “I love the idea, but to me Bigfoot is more than a relic hominid. Bigfoot represents true wilderness, or maybe even the guardian of the wilderness. If Bigfoot exists, he shares the same habitat as countless other critters.”
As for Walker, while winning Best in Show at the competition would be great, he has a second agenda in the movie—hoping that putting Patty on display will “prompt some hunter to open his freezer and pull out the proof that Bigfoot is real.”
Big Fur is a wry, funny portrait of an eccentric artist-hero that titillates the imagination. As author and naturalist Bob Pyle says in the movie, “if we allow the land to become so tamed that we can no longer even imagine the possibility of wild hairy apes out there, we will have lost something more profound than Bigfoot.”
Big Fur screens on Thursday at Vinegar Hill Theatre at 10:30pm. Discussion to follow with director Dan Wayne and subject Ken Walker, moderated by Chandler Ferrebee.