Can't bear to bury dear departed Tiddles? Why not have him freeze-dried and keep him forever?

By Suzannah Hills

Pet cemetery: From left to right, Joe Pycke, 37, Anthony Eddy, 63, and Eddie Shane, 45, crouch in front of a room full of freeze dried pets at AEWS in Slater, Missouri

Many owners struggle to say goodbye to their beloved pets when they pass away.

But some animal lovers in America have decided they just can't part with their furry friends and have paid up to £2,500 to get them freeze dried using space age technology.

The new craze, which is becoming increasingly popular around the world, takes the idea of stuffing animals one step further by instead freezing pets to minus nine degrees while slowly removing all moisture from the bodies.

The freeze drying chamber: Employee Joe Pycke, 37, stands next to the 48 inch diametre by 10 foot long freeze drying vacuum chamber used to restore pets to their former glory at AEWS in Slater, Missouri

Once all the moisture has gone, the animals are then freeze dried, with the result being that the pets look like they are still alive or just sleeping as they are frozen in life-like poses.

Some owners wait up to seven months while their dog, cat, or even rabbit goes through the freeze drying process in a sealed vacuum chamber.

The pet freeze dryers even restore chronically ill pets to their former living glory by using expert grooming techniques and old photos of the cherished animal.

Anthony Eddy, 63, who owns Anthony Eddy's Wildlife Studio or AEWS in Missouri, said: 'It is a very emotional thing for pet owners, they don't want to bury or cremate their beloved animal, and they want them to still be around.

'They want to have their pet around and the majority of our customers are old and have had their pet for a long time and the bond between them is strong.

'Most of these animals are old too and have died of cancer or another debilitating illness and when we receive them they do not look their best.

'We ask the owners for pictures of them as they would like to remember the pet and using silicone and stylings we can fill out thin rib cages, legs, faces and restore a lustre to the animal.'

Mr Eddy admitted that some may find the concept of freeze dried animals 'weird' but insisted it is becoming an increasingly popular art form.

He said: 'I do accept that some people will find it weird, but it is growing in acceptance and what we do is a fine art.'

Owners wanting to have their pets freeze dried are given strict instructions on what to do when their pet finally dies.

Mr Eddy continued: 'We ask all our customers to put their pet in a freezer within 48 hours of its death.

Work in progress: Frozen into place, Isis, the black long haired cat is readied to be manipulated into place using metal pins

Sweet dreams: This beautiful Calico cat looks like it has just curled up for a quick nap but it has actually been permanently freeze dried

Wide awake: Despite looking alive, this pomeranian dog from Florida has been freeze dried using space age technology

'We then ask them to priority Fed-Ex or UPS the body to us, we have an arrangement with these companies and they know what they are transporting to us.

'We have been freeze drying pets for 20 years and take customers from 48 states and even from Canada.'

The company operates 14 freeze drying chambers, including one large ten foot long one, and at any one time there are 40 pets undergoing the process at the Missouri offices.

Mr Eddy said: 'It is a very slow process freeze drying. The chamber operates at minus nine degrees celsius and over the period of up to six months the frozen moisture is slowly converted to a gaseous state and then extracted.

Action poses: With tail wagging, a freeze dried chihuahua looks to the camera, as though he is ready to spring up

The Wildlife Studio claims they can restore animals, such as this beagle dog, to their former glory using freeze drying technology

'The larger the animal the larger the amount of moisture. We remove all the internal organs and fat from the insides of the pets and replace their eyes with glass.

'We check the weight every two weeks and if the weight of the animal has not decreased after a two week gap then we know there is no more moisture left.

'The animal is then freeze dried, just like the food they give to astronauts.'

Mr Eddy uses metal rods after the process to move the pets into the desired poses.

He said: 'We are very proud of this service. Unfortunately sometimes because the process takes so long the owner who is elderly dies during the vacuuming. I keep these pets and show potential customers how beautiful their pets will look like.'

Life-like: Dozens of freeze dried pets on the floor look startlingly life-like and could easily be mistaken as being alive

Frozen: Freeze dies pets, such as this Persian cat called Fluff, is a lot more realistic than the more traditional stuffing of animals



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