Spain probes private taxidermy museum with 1,000 animals

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. stuffed / stʌft / (adj.) – filled with something

    I collected stuffed toys when I was a child.

  2. specimen / ˈspɛs ə mən / (n.) – an individual plant or animal that’s an example of a particular type or species

    The professor presented a specimen of seven different plants to the class.

  3. black market / blæk ˈmɑr kɪt / (n.) – a type of market that facilitates the illegal buying and selling of goods

    A lot of stolen goods are sold on the black market.

  4. trafficking / ˈtræf ɪ kɪŋ / (n.) – the act of buying or selling goods illegally

    The man was arrested for drug trafficking.

  5. ivory / ˈaɪ və ri / (n.) – a hard cream-colored material that forms the main part of the tusks of elephants

    Ivory is often used to make objects like jewelry, decorations, and piano keys.


Read the text below.

Spain’s Civil Guard says it is investigating a businessman in the eastern Valencia region who owned a private taxidermy collection with more than 1,000 stuffed animals, including just over 400 from protected species and at least one specimen of a North African oryx, already extinct.

The collection would fetch 29 million euros ($31.5 million) on the black market, the Civil Guard said Sunday in a statement, adding that its owner could be charged with trafficking and other crimes against the environment.

It said the finding was the largest of protected stuffed specimens in Spain.

Investigating agents found the stuffed animals in two warehouses extending over 50,000 square meters on the outskirts of Bétera, a small town north of the eastern coastal city of Valencia.

Of the 1,090 stuffed animals found, 405 belonged to specimens protected by the CITES convention on wildlife protection.

They included the scimitar oryx, also known as the Sahara oryx, which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, declared extinct in the wild in 2000, and at least two more species nearly extinct: the addax, or white antelope, originally from the Sahara desert and the Bengal tiger.

The agents also recorded stuffed specimens of cheetah, leopard, lion, lynx, polar bear, snow panther and white rhinoceros, among others, as well as 198 large ivory tusks from elephants.

The Civil Guard said it would investigate whether any documents exist justifying the ownership of the collection.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How do you feel about the idea of taxidermy (ex. it’s interesting, it’s cruel)? Why? Discuss.
  • What do you think should be done to the 1,090 stuffed animals found (ex. display them in a museum, destroy them)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Why do you think some people like to collect particular things (ex. for personal pleasure, to show their wealth)? Discuss.
  • If you could have a collection, what would it be? What would you be willing to do to add to your collection (ex. pay a huge sum of money, trade something valuable)? Discuss.