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What to do with a real tiger

My father in law was a collector of many paintings, sculptures, and dead exotic animals. Before he passed he gave us a whole tiger skin. I am not fond of it because I don’t know the procedure to have a tiger skinned- if it is dead or alive for that. However we had to accept because the culture here is absolutely respectful to parents (Chinese culture) and it would be an affront not to take it. Eventually we had it up the walk for 10 years but I have decided to take it down after we redecorate our living space (was traditional European/Chinese style and now it is modern).
The full tiger framed skin now sits in one spare room and it not in the wall. It is huge because they spread the skin under the glass frame so it tajes a lot of space and it needs a huge blank wall to have it hang up. I am thinking what to do with it. After discussing with my husband the options would be: sell it to an specific dealer store for this, donate to a museum and have his father’s name as the donator , or put it back on a wall in apartment. He doesn’t really want to get rid of it because of the sentimental value as he father passed just after giving it to us. It is a very valuable piece but it is a whole dead animal. Although it is very beautiful (tigers are stunning) it is dead up on your face. I would prefer to donate to the museum but there is opposition to that. How do you think guests would feel having it as a décor in the apartment? I know most people now say they advocate animals rights, so would they complaint about it? I am not pro cruelty but as I said it is Chinese culture that is involved in the gift givjng-receiving and there is no easy way to get it out without hurting relationships here. So, should I hang it and exhibit it, it just leave it during until we get to a common decision? Thanks

I would hate to see that in an appartment and will be very hard on my place review.


Option two, if you can. Your husband can always visit it at the museum. Some guests may be turned off by it. (I believe tigers are an endangered species.)

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Thank you for your honest opinion. I believe most comments to come will say so too. Let’s see. I am collecting data here to convince my husband haha.

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As a guest, I would be pretty horrified by seeing this on the wall. I understand that you need to finesse the gift aspects but I agree with you that many guests will not have a positive reaction to seeing an endangered dead animal hide. Can you store it somewhere else? (I’m also not a hardcore animal rights activist – I eat many different kinds of meat, wear leather and shearling, and I fish regularly.)



My in-laws are Chinese, so I know about the gift giving thing. Every time visit we come back with piles of things we don’t know what to do with but can’t refuse.

My FIL’s specialty is dusty old scrolls with calligraphy. I know they have special meaning to him, but we can’t even fit them in our small Cape Cod style house!

If the donation is in your FIL’s name, it seems like a nice way to honor his memory and is not the same as selling it off or putting it in the bin.


Yes, the great thing about donating is that his fathers name would be in the exhibit next to the frame. I think that’s awesome, but I am still persuading him.

Yes, unfortunately it even is a type of tiger that is either extinct or close to. His father had wild birds etc, quite scary. My mother in law still keeps them.
I am thinking if I convince my husband to donate to the museum, the museum will send a thank you letter and an acknowledgement framed certificate which I think will be much nicer to have than the tiger. I have already talked to the musuem.
If i win this argument maybe my MIL will donate hers also .

I personally wouldn’t want to have animals if I am renting too, unless is some old hunter Texas house and I am looking for this, otherwise no.

Thank you @chicagohost
Currently I can only store in the apartment. It is too large to go into a storage unit here (they are not container size as in the US) and I am becoming a minimalist-ish so would like to rent anywhere for that. And asking people in the family to store it for me would cause a family crisis. Chinese people don’t take it lightly regarding their ancestors, or respecting their dead.

Exactly! I think it woukd be lovely and an honor.

The phrase that stood out to me was that you would like to donate the tiger skin to a museum “but there was opposition to that.”

Would that opposition be from your husband or his relatives? If the latter, you could address that aspect by asking if there was anyone in the family interested in having it. Of course, if you passed it on to another member, you would have no say in what they in turn do with it. They may sell it for personal gain and if that mattered to you, then just announce your plan to donate it to a museum.

If the opposition is solely from your hubby, then I’m afraid it’s all on you. Fingers crossed that he will agree that your idea is the best solution toward preserving his father’s gift and honoring his memory rather than storing the skin away…which is what you will do after having lived with it for 10 yrs.

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Thanks @SandyToes
The opposition is more on my husband side. Other members of the family would take in a blink but they would sell in a blink too too cash out the money. The value is quite high and Chinese people like to make their greens.

My MIL or any direct family (SIL etc) would not take it back because of the tradition and sentimental values. So I would have to give to 2nd, 3rd degree cousins and no doubt they would sell it right away.

Right now I need to convince my husband to donate it. Mostly it is his opposition as he still keeps a few things from his father (last cell phone, watch collection etc) . This year a great chance happened as he is into this downsizing possessions thing because I am into the minimalist thing I am just hoping this goes on with te sentimental possessions too.

My major point to him is that our children, grandchildren and so could always go to the musuem and see his fathers name stamped there and show their friends etc. I mean, how cool is that? He is 40per cent, I would say, into buying my suggestion. His remaining claim is to hang it back, but I also don’t want to keep looking at it.

I recently had a chance to visit the big cats very closely in a wild reserve and Everytime I look at the skin now i can only remember their smell.

I may be opposite of Chicagohost. I’m a vegan, but wouldn’t be bothered by the tiger skin if it was made clear to me that it was an antique from the olden days, and that you did not poach a tiger for the decour. I am against sport/trophy hunting but realize the animal is already long dead.

Are you certain the museum would display the skin? The museums here in the states only display something like 10% of their total collection. Nonetheless, I think the museum may be the best option because nobody is profiting and it honors your FIL’s memory.


Natural history or science museums would display an animal. Other museums, not so much.

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I don’t care to see remains of dead animals as decorations of any kind. I’ve been airbnb shopping the last two days and have looked at dozens of listings. I saw one with a cow hide rug and realized that was a turn off. I clicked away and did not read the whole listing.


Eeeek. I think it would send the wrong message. Even if you explained it to the moon and back a certain percentage of your guests will absolutely hate it and even mention it in their review. Are you in Taiwan? If most of your guests are non Asian then definitely get rid of it. If it’s something that would be appreciated in your culture, maybe. But… I would tend toward NO. I think it’s really dodgy to hang something that is very likely to cause offense to the good majority of your guests.

The only option is to donate this albatross to a museum, university or other appropriate place. I don’t think it could even be sold, even with the antiquity exemption. I don’t know… I’d hate to see that in my Airbnb rental. It’s not exactly restful either.


That is useful to know. The natural history museum in my city is one that also only displays 10% of their total collection. Last time I visited, the taxidermy was all local animals, but they do rotate what is on display. I wonder if donated tiger skins are extremely rare, or if they have five in the back. I did want to warn Vera though that museums do rotate displays, as I have known people who have made donations to museums and are disappointed the item is in storage. I can’t speak to tiger skins, but Lucy Lawless donated her Xena costume to the Smithsonian and they never put it on display. We fans were very disappointed!


There is no guarantee that any particular item would be on exhibit. The only recourse is you make the donation contingent upon it always being on display, but museums only agree to this if they really, really, really want that piece. Museums can also choose to sell items in their collections, and again, a gift can forbid this.


I used to have a zebra skin on my floor. I received it as a gift from my former father-in-law and the skin had been passed to him by his father. It was not as rare or as valuable as a tiger skin, but was still quite exotic and had a lot of history attached to it. It was hunted 100 years ago when things were different, so I certainly was not going to judge the gift by today’s standards. To me, it was a very beautiful gift that I intended to display, and I did.

After years of being on the floor and suffering damages, it was time to get rid of it and I’m thankful that someone chose me to have this family heirloom. Guests (not paying guests) in our home would sometimes comment on it, sometimes be bothered by it, and sometimes love it.

To your question. My opinion is that if it is your home which you share with guests, to decorate it in the style that suits YOU best, and to honor your family in the way that works for your family and your culture. For every guest that might be offended, there will be another guest that will appreciate the history and the beauty of it. I would hang it on the wall.


I would find it super cool, understanding the time in which it was hunted. I would love to see the detail of the fur so up close.

I sympathize with this situation. One thought I had is that you could attempt to donate it based on the idea of ‘sharing the beauty’ with others.

The fact is, though, once you hand it over you can’t control what anyone does with it. Even a museum could sell it. Sure you could make the donation contingent on them not selling, but if they do, you’d have to fight a legal battle so, who would want to do that?

I wonder if you husband would be open to the idea of selling it and using a portion for a charity or organization your father-in-law would have supported, a portion to provide your mother-in-law with something she needs, and a portion to come to DC and stay in an awesome airbnb! ; )

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As a guest it wouldn’t bother me - but that is probably because I am absolutely ignorant when it comes to endangered species/hunting/animal rights stuff. I would be clueless anyway.

I would sell it since anyone you give it to might to sell it anyway.

So what happens in Chinese culture if you don’t accept a gift because you don’t have room to store it? Does family disown you? If someone doesn’t have room for “stuff” - isn’t it a bit rude and selfish of the gift giver to be upset if it will only clutter your home? Aren’t Chinese into Feng Shui and everything in the home being harmonious…lol?

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