Akeley, Carl (Ethan)naturalists, explorers; Carl born in Clarendon, N.Y.; Mary Lee born in Tappan, Ohio. He worked as a taxidermist in Rochester, N.Y., and then at the Milwaukee Museum. By the time he joined the staff at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (1895), he was perfecting new techniques for making large habitat groups of wild animals—sculpting realistic forms on which real skins, horns, and other bodily parts were placed. He made five trips to Africa (1896, 1905, 1909, 1926) and invented a special motion-picture camera for naturalists to study wildlife (1916). He died in Africa, two years after he married Mary Lee Jobe, his second wife. She had explored in the Canadian Rockies (1913–18) and she continued his African expedition (1926–27). She returned to Africa in 1935 and 1946 and collected further materials for the American Museum of Natural History, New York City. She won international recognition for her work in informing the world of the importance of maintaining primitive and natural life in Africa.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.