Get Stuffed: Police Seize €29m Haul Of Stuffed Exotic Animals In Bétera, Valencia

Police have seized a €29m haul of stuffed exotic animals in Bétera, a northern suburb of Valencia City, with more than 400 protected species that include polar bears, elephants and Bengal tigers. Eugene Costello reports…

The haul is one of the largest of illegal taxidermy in Europe, reports The Guardian and international agencies.

Extinct animals included in the collection

The Guardia Civil discovered more than 1,000 specimens in a 50,000 sq metre industrial warehouse in Bétera, Valencia, on Wednesday, it said in a statement on Sunday. A local man is under investigation over the haul. They added that 400 of the man’s 1,090 stuffed critters are protected species. Including the extinct North African oryx, that should not be in the hands of a private collector. Investigators say they believe he was trading the animals on the black market. Potential criminal charges include trafficking and environmental crimes. The man, who remains nameless, kept his beasts in two warehouses north of Valencia.

Stuffed animals © GUARDIA CIVIL
The stuff of nightmares: Part of the haul of stuffed exotic animals in Bétera © GUARDIA CIVIL

The collection included some that are extinct in the wild, such as the scimitar oryx. Or severely threatened, such as the Bengal tiger. Others included lions, leopards, cheetahs and lynx. The discovery represents the culmination of an investigation that began in November following a tip-off about the illegal collection.

Officers from the Guardia Civil’s Nature Protection Service ( Seprona ) made the largest discovery of stuffed animal specimens in Spanish history last Wednesday, 6 April. Their operation was a collaboration with EUROPOL. More than 400 of the species are believed to be protected by the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

Stuffed animals © GUARDIA CIVIL
That’s a croc, monsieur: Europe’s largest ever such haul? © GUARDIA CIVIL

The police are yet to make an arrest. Sources say that he is one of the sons of the well-known late Valencian businessman Francisco Ros Casares. A former steel mill owner and at one time he was also president of Valencia CF. Rumours that the animals were on standby for first-team action are believed to be wide of the mark.

Keep up to date with this story and more news in Valencia HERE.

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