Within the contemporary museum discourse, there is a new paradigm on the making; the “Wildlife Museums”. It may be catalogued as the offspring of the oldest father of the museums, the anthropological and natural science museums; and its cabinets of curiosities. There are only handful outstanding museums of this type with the most complete collection of naturalized (stuffed) animals Museo de la Fauna Salvaje in León, Spain, is one of the most comprehensive of its kind; unique in Europe and worldwide. It is privately owned and funded by a foundation created for this purpose.
Link to MFS: http://www.museodelafaunasalvaje.com/
Museo de la Fauna Salvaje is a unique museum located privileged setting at the skirts of the Pyrenees Mountains in North West Spain; in the province of León. It is within a National Park facing a water reservoir, Lake Porma, a few kilometers from San Isidro Ski Resort, historical sites, natural caves with stalactites, forests, amongst other attractions. Road distances from the provincial capital León is 60 Km., from Madrid 400 Km., Valladolid 200 Km., and Oviedo 120 Km. Its coordinates are: 42º 49´ 10.07″ N; 5º 19´ 37.12″ W.
Museo de la Fauna Salvaje is a young museum; inaugurated in 2004. It is an entirely private institution managed by the Foundation Dr. Romero Nieto; who is at the same time its trustee and president of the museum. Its funding, as well as its collections have been granted almost entirely by the main trustee of the Foundation and President of the museum.
The project was carried out with the cooperation, and forming part of the Board, various institutions as the Provincial Delegation of León, City Council of Boñar, and the University of León. It also participated Junta de Castilla y León, Duero Hydrographic Confederation, zoos, circuses, wildlife parks, other museums; as well as research centers and centers for investigation and control of wildlife diseases.
Museo de la Fauna Salvaje has been already recognized as a national reference. It is visited by approximately 65.000 per year, mainly domestic; but also from many European countries and USA. 60% of the visitors come during the summer and holidays.
Fauna of all five continents are represented within 25 main fresco dioramas as background and environmental sounds. Most of the exhibition is interactive and the public may touch and feel the exhibited species.
The museum´s future prospects and plans are ambitious. There is a research department working in close collaboration with the University of León. There is a nucleus of wild animals in semi-wild conditions in the forest surrounding the museum, where wildlife and botanical tours are carried out.
MFS in figures
Approximately 2,300 square meters of heated area (building)
Wildlife representing our five continents
400 full bodied large mammals
200 small mammals
6000 species of insects
6000 different species of insects
Over 3000 birds
Approximately 5000 square meters of dioramas with fresco paintings
Conference room, meeting room, library, art gallery, gift shop, restaurant, coffee shop, terrace, kiosk bar with outdoor sitting for 100 persons.
Conference and class room with full audiovisual equipment. Cafetería- Restaurante
Meeting room and library.
Art gallery for exhibition and sales of paintings, sculptures and art work related to wildlife.
Outdoor kiosk – bar and terrace with wooden tables with a capacity of 100 persons.
Zoo area of over 25 hectare where animals are kept in their natural environment with more than 100 animals in semi-freedom state. Visits are done with an all-terrain vehicle The visitor may see Spanish fauna species as wild boar, wild hogs, boar, chamois, deer, roe deer.
There is a Project to Access to the museum sailing through the Porma Reservoir.
An archeological Project to restore a Romanic Church by the Porma Reservoir.
The collection, naturalia
Almost the entire exhibition originates from the private collection of the main trustee of the foundation Dr. Romero Nieto who has been acquiring and commissioning the specimens for more than 20 years with the idea of the museum. The species which are licensed for hunting have been also collected by him.
The Iberian lynx (lynx pardinus) has been donated by the Franco family.
The tigers, which are protected species, died in a circus and was delivered skinned.
A tiger was recently killed in a fight with another tiger in the Natural Park and Zoo in Cabárceno (Santander). The specie was donated to the museum and is under preparation to be included in the exhibit.
A rhinoceros died recently in the same park and was also donated to MFS.
Approximately 5 % of the collection comes from the Provincial Council of Alava. The species were hunted some decades ago by its former owner. From this collection comes the two gorillas, a rhinoceros, a giraffe, amongst others were added to the exhibition after restoration.
The orangutans come from a zoo where they died.
Collection of birds, more than 3 thousand; from which only 800 are in exhibition
Most of the birds have been donated by the taxidermist José Luis Blanco who has been collecting then during 40 years. He has also donated 80 samples of primates, most of them endangered species. The taxidermist has an agreement with the University of Valladolid to share the remains of outstanding birds and small vertebrates such as monkeys. The university keeps the skeleton for their research and Mr. Blanco, who was in charge of the dissection, keeps the skins.
The bronze collection: Outdoors on the premises of museum, strategically displayed mimicking natural environment, there is a collection of real size bronze sculptures representing the entire Iberian fauna; with wolves, wild boar, chamois, deer, roe deer, lynx and bear. Also inside the museum there is an exhibit of a broad collection of smaller bronze sculptures representing wild life scenes and animals. Both collections are authored by renowned Spanish bronze artists as: Garot, Morales, amongst other. These collections have been also acquired by the trustee.
Most of the exhibited animals are from legal hunting; terms used are “legal and controlled hunting” or “synergetic hunting”. We may apply the term as “nature’s overstock”. It is, in most of the cases older and/or defective animals.
Endangered species such as lynx, tigers, and snow leopards come from Guardia Civil and customs. At present more species are added to the museum through agreements with zoos, rehabilitation centers, amongst others.