Authorities in Spain are investigating a businessman from the Valencia region on charges of smuggling and holding a private taxidermy collection of more than 1,000 stuffed animals, including hundreds of protected species and several that are extinct or nearly extinct.
In an announcement on April 10, the country’s Civil Guard said that the seized collection, the largest in Spain of protected stuffed specimens, would fetch €29 million (∼$31.5 million) on the black market.
Agents of the Valencia Civil Guard Command launched the investigation in November of 2021 when they became aware of a 12-acre warehouse outside the town of Bétera, north of Valencia, that housed a mammoth collection of exotic taxidermy animals. This month, they raided the colossal warehouse and found 1,090 stuffed animals, including 405 endangered species protected by the 1973 CITES convention on wildlife protection.
Among the specimens were the scimitar oryx, also known as the Sahara oryx, which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared extinct in the wild in 2000, and two nearly extinct species: the addax, or white antelope, native to the Sahara desert, and the Bengal tiger.
Other protected animals in the collection include a cheetah, leopard, lion, lynx, polar bear, snow leopard, white rhinoceros, and more. The investigators also found 198 large ivory tusks of elephants.
The owner of the collection, who has not been named, could face charges of trafficking and other crimes against the environment, the Civil Guard said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.