It looks like a set of the movie "Night at the Museum". Sadly not. A private collection of over 1,000 taxidermied animals is a result of brutality, wildlife exploitation, and illegal trade. The Spanish Civil Guard busted a massive private taxidermy collection with more than 1,000 stuffed animals stored in two warehouses spread across 50,000 square meters. The entire collection is valued at over ₹240cr ($32 million/£24 million) if sold on the black market.
One of Europe's biggest illegal wildlife busts
The illegal wildlife bust in Eastern Spain is touted as one of the biggest yet. The officials from the Spain's Civil Guard recovered 1,090 taxidermy specimens, which include 405 specimens protected under CITES and are illegal to trade internationally. The collection includes elephants, white rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, lions, crocodiles, Bengal tigers, snow panther polar bear and 198 elephant ivory tusks in well-preserved condition. All of the animals have been displayed in a museum and preserved in their natural form.
Shockingly, there were stools made of elephants' feet and chairs decorated with crocodile skin, as per the video by Newsweek. Furthermore, the collection includes a scimitar oryx, which was declared extinct in 200 and an addax, an antelope-like creature functionally extinct in the wild.
While some animals are found inside glass cases, others are in the open against a backdrop depicting their natural habitat.
Who owns this collection?
While the person behind the collection hasn't been identified beyond being a "businessman", the Civil Guard has proceeded to investigate the accused of the crimes of smuggling and another related to the protection of flora and fauna in the municipality of Bétera (Valencia).
"The operation carried out by the Nature Protection Team of the Valencia Civil Guard Command began last November 2021, when the agents became aware of a possible private collection of specimens in the municipality of Bétera," the official statement read.