Taxidermy service Stuffr has grown massively in popularity in recent years. Customers can use the Stuffr app to book a taxidermist at short notice, who will come to their house and stuff any creature they desire.
Yet there is a darker side behind the smiling but inanimate face of Stuffr. It has hired millions of freelance stuffers on zero-hours contracts, meaning that its workers will often spend all day waiting by the phone in the hope of a stuffing job.
The traditional taxidermy industry has been badly affected by the growth of apps like Stuffr. Professional taxidermist Geoff Fingers has been doing his job for over forty years. "I went to an actual taxidermy school in Belgium. It's not like that anymore. Anyone with some pillow feathers and a knife thinks he can do it now. They charge a fraction of what I do, but they don't provide the same standard."
Yet that may be about to change with the news that the UK Supreme Court has ordered Stuffr to pay its workers full-time, even on days where they are only waiting for work.
"That's splendid," said Fingers. "They won't be able to employ so many people, and hopefully the ones that stay will be more dedicated. I've heard that some Stuffr workers steal body parts and sell them to restaurants."
He bemoaned the fact that few people appreciated the art of taxidermy anymore. "For young people, it's just a joke. They'll say, 'oh, let's stuff the cat with a silly face on it.' They forget that a taxidermy is for life, not just for Christmas.
"Traditional taxidermy is about conserving the creature and its nature, to allow people to keep their dead pet or grandparent around the house, but not to smell badly."
"It requires gallons of vinegar and a basting spoon to do it properly," he said. "Not to mention proper disposal of the organs. I usually eat the leftovers myself, to ensure they don't fall into the wrong hands."