Spain probes private taxidermy museum with 1,000 animals

MADRID (AP) – The Spanish Civil Guard said it was investigating a businessman from the eastern Valencia region who had a private taxidermy collection with more than 1,000 stuffed animals, including just over 400 d protected species and at least one specimen of the already extinct North African oryx.

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

He said the find was the largest of the stuffed specimens protected in Spain.

Investigators found the stuffed animals in two warehouses spanning more than 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 the protection of wildlife.

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

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

The Civil Guard said it would investigate the existence of documents justifying ownership of the collection.

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