The Spanish Civil Guard has seized a stuffed lion in Castelldefels in Barcelona that a woman had tried to sell online for €6,000. The ad, posted on the classified site milanuncios.com, was seen by officers from the Civil Guard’s Nature Protection Service (Seprona) in Malaga, who alerted their colleagues in Barcelona. These officers then organized a meeting with the woman and discovered that she did indeed have a stuffed lion – positioned in attack mode with its claws out and teeth baring – tucked away inside her home.
On August 3, investigators verified whether the lion was a real specimen, concluding that it was indeed a male African lion, and was “in perfect condition,” according to a press release. The animal had been “naturalized by taxidermy” and “placed on a cardboard base,” it added.
“From the side it doesn’t look very real, but when you see it, with its head and teeth, you know it’s authentic,” said sources from Seprona.
So how did a lion from Africa get to Castelldefels? The woman told the Civil Guard that her late father-in-law had killed the animal on a hunting trip to Namibia in the 1990s. He brought the animal to Spain and kept it in a storage room. The lion remained there until it was passed on to the woman, who decided to sell it on the classified website for €5,995. She does not have any documentation to prove that the animal was killed legally, nor does she know the exact date or location of the hunt.
Although lots of different kinds of stuffed animals are sold online, it is not common to find lions, which are a protected endangered species. “Much less, an entire body,” added Seprona sources. The Civil Guard officers were also surprised by the animal’s “charging position.” “Before, in the 1980s and 1990s, taxidermists made the animals look more fierce but this practice was banned. They have to be in a more normal position,” the sources explained.
The Civil Guard has opened an investigation into the alleged wildlife crime for the possession and trade of an endangered species and passed the case on to prosecutors. In the meantime, the stuffed lion has been temporarily placed in the Castle of the Three Dragons, the headquarters of Barcelona’s Museum of Natural Sciences.
English version by Melissa Kitson.