Monday, August 14, 2017

Interview with the Mammoth

By Kelli Huggins, Education Coordinator

Have you met our sixth staff member yet? The small, fuzzy, prehistoric, supposed-to-be-extinct one? I’m talking about our museum mascot, Mark the Mammoth. You can often see him at the museum or check out his exploits on his Twitter page:

Mark the Mammoth, the star of the show
While the human staff here at the museum like to think we’re cool (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary), we’ve got nothing on Mark. Mark has an international fan base. He helps us spread the word about Chemung County history near and far. He has been featured in articles and conference presentations, starred in music videos, has participated in an international mammoth exchange, and more. From his Twitter account, he shares items from the museum’s collections, glimpses into daily life at the museum, and some extinction humor thrown in for good measure.

Mark with his pal Mortimer the Mammoth of the Hull Museums on Mark's international mammoth exchange to Hull, England. There are multiple mammoths and mastodons on Twitter.
At the risk of increasing his already over-inflated ego, I’ve asked Mark to take some time from his busy schedule to sit down for this interview.

The staff competes in an annual Mark the Mammoth Halloween costume contest. This is curator Erin's 2014 Marie Antoinette masterpiece (which wasn't even the winner that year!).
Kelli: Thanks for agreeing to this interview Mark. I know that you have a pretty packed Tweeting schedule to attend to.

Mark: Thanks for the invitation.

K: Let’s start with the basics. Why are you here as the mascot of the Chemung County Historical Society?

M: Over 10,000 years ago, my kind roamed this area. Of course, there weren’t any of you humans here and things were a lot icier, but this has long been my home. Then extinction happened. As we died off, our bones fossilized and were found thousands of years later by some rather confused humans. This area was named “Chemung,” meaning “land of the big horn.” We’d call them tusks now, but horn works, I guess. Most of our visitors don’t realize this county is named after mammoths. I blow a lot of minds with that fact.

K: Your Twitter bio says that you “beat extinction.” Could you describe that process?

M: The scientists are still examining how that happened. Basically, I somehow shrunk down, allowing my body to survive on far fewer resources than a full-sized mammoth. People think I’m a stuffed animal, but they are mistaken. I am an actual, miniature mammoth. A modern scientific marvel, if I do say so myself.

K: That is certainly fascinating. I see that you are named after important local figure, Mark Twain.

M: Since I’m thousands of years older than him, I prefer to think that he was named after me.

K: Ok, sure. What do you see as your main role at the museum?

M: I like to think that I put a friendly, approachable face on the museum. Even though I know that my human colleagues aren’t scary and intimidating (most of the time), I know that a lot of people feel that museums aren’t for them or that they wouldn’t be welcome. We want everyone, of all ages, to feel like they are welcome to come visit us. Who wouldn’t feel welcomed looking at my adorable, fuzzy face? And for people around the world, my Twitter account is a way to spread the word about our fascinating local history to people who probably will never get a chance to visit Chemung County.

K: You are pretty adorable. Is there anything you would like to do more of at the museum?

M: I’d like to do more educational programming about mammoths and mastodons here in our local history. We already do some, and I might be biased, but I think we could do more! Our mammoth tusk is the literal centerpiece of our Bank Gallery and it’s definitely something that wows our visitors. 
Our "big horn"
K: Thank you for your time, Mark. Is there anything else you’d like to share before we go?

M: Just that people should check out my Twitter account. You can see what I’m posting even if you don’t have an account yourself. Find it here: There are also lots of other fantastic museum mascots out there to follow. Just ask me if you want recommendations!

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