Everything has to come from somewhere. For the taxidermied animals used in movies and photo shoots, that somewhere is often a British warehouse called London Taxidermy. But the high-profile business took a hit last week when thieves made off with £100,000 (about $142,000) in stuffed animals and other antiques, ITV reports.
London Taxidermy has been a fixture in the entertainment world for more than two decades. The stuffed animals housed in the Wandsworth, UK warehouse have appeared in National Geographic magazine, James Bond and Harry Potter movies, TV shows like Downton Abbey and Doctor Who, and advertising campaigns for Cartier, Alexander McQueen, and Jimmy Choo.
“This was not a random crime,” Detective Constable Edward Bird told ITV News. “The burglars had came prepared and well equipped. This was a criminal enterprise and these thieves need to be stopped before they commit further crimes.”
Police believe the burglars forced their way into the building between around 7 and 8 p.m. Tuesday night. They stole several antiques and 18 stuffed animals, including a king penguin, a sloth, a zebra, two lions, two giraffes, and a grimacing chimpanzee in a top hat.
London Taxidermy’s Alex Turner suspects the thieves were after something else entirely. “I think they were after rhino horns—that is my theory,” he said to ITV News. "I have a couple of fibreglass ones on the website and they may have mistaken them for the real thing. So they just began taking things at random.”
Taxidermy and crime go together more often than you might think. Trading in endangered animals, even those that have been stuffed, is illegal in many areas, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. As the London Taxidermy website is careful to note, all of the business’s animals are ethically and legally purchased, and all of them are already dead and stuffed by the time they reach the warehouse.