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The University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library has a cougar on display — along with a polar bear, caribou and other animals of the American West.

The library recently received a donation of 13 rare prints by the famed naturalist John J. Audubon, and will put them on display starting Wednesday at the Marriott's Department of Special Collections.

The prints were donated by Lonnie Paulos, an orthopedic surgeon in Salt Lake City, and his wife Shannon. The university reports the prints have an estimated value of $250,000.

One of the oversized prints, of two black vultures feasting on a deer carcass, comes from Audubon's landmark publication, "Birds of North America." The other 12 come from Audubon's follow-up tome, "Quadrupeds of North America," and feature large mammals native to the West.

"Audubon developed this ambition to go through America, collect all these specimens, and paint them," said Todd Samuelson, associate director of the Special Collections department.

The original "Birds of America" featured large-plate prints of 435 paintings, using etching and mezzotint techniques and then hand-colored. They were printed in London, because Audubon couldn't find an American printer who could produce quality prints, Samuelson said.

"Birds of North America" was a hit in Europe, Samuelson said, because "people were intrigued by the New World, the expanse of it."

The effort took 12 years to complete, and the plates were sold by subscription — with only about 200 complete sets of the full-sized plates produced, Samuelson said. Subscribers paid $1,000, in 1830s' dollars. One full set recently sold at auction for $11 million, he said.

The "Quadrupeds of North America" plates were made with stone lithography, with images drawn on limestone with grease pencil, Samuelson said. The second set, produced from 1842 to 1845, was done by an American printer, J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia.

The prints — along with Audubon books from the library's Rare Books collection — will be on display in the Special Collections room, on the fourth floor of the Marriott Library, from Wednesday through Sept. 9. —

Audubon prints at U. of U.

A collection of 13 oversized prints by naturalist John J. Audubon, recently donated to the University of Utah.

Where • J. Willard Marriott Library, Special Collections room, fourth floor.

When • Exhibit runs Wednesday through Sept. 9.

Hours • The Special Collections room is open Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Sunday.

Admission • Free.