Answered By: Emilie Smart
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2015     Views: 27

Sparkle was an actual elephant and was the mascot of the Baton Rouge Republican Party. 

Details are scarce, but unfortunately, sometime in February of 1967, Sparkle got into some rat poison and died.

Sparkle's corpse was donated to Louisiana State University's Museum of Natural Sciences where it was cleaned -- tissue devoured to the bare bones -- using Dermestid Beetle Larvae, or "the wooleybuggers."   Wooleybuggers were used to clean skeletons without disassembling the skeletons. They were particularly effective in cleaning snake corpses, with their hundreds of ribs, and small mammal skeletons.

Dr. George H. Lowery, then director of the museum, kept The Wooleybugger Room [actual name] very secure as the larvae feed on dried tissue and could quickly destroy many of the museums mounted specimens.

Lowery remarked that the beetles live in remote, dark, moist places such as the Carlsbad Caverns, can strip small animals bare within a matter of hours, and will even begin to feed on severely injured or immobile creatures.

Finished skeletons were soaked in an ammonia bath to destroy any eggs or larva that remained after preparation.

State Times 3 March 1967 p. 6-C

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