Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tusk hacked

On March 29th in the early hours of the morning, the Paris police caught a 20-year-old man limping down the street carrying a 7 lb (3 kg) elephant tusk over his shoulder. They had been alerted by neighbors who heard noises inside the Museum of Natural History. The Museum's alarm had also sounded when the man broke a thick window to gain entry. He had come equipped with a chainsaw to do some indoor poaching. His source of ivory: the skeleton of an African elephant that had been given to King Louis XIV by the King of Portugal in 1668 and lived out its days at the Palace of Versailles. Although the tusks were not original to the animal and had been added in the 19th c., they are still of significant scientific and historical value. Luckily, since they have been recovered they can be put back in place. “The skull is in excellent condition, which means repairing it will be quite easy,” says Jacques Cuisin, from the Museum’s restoration workshops. As a bit of poetic justice, the thief broke his ankle when he jumped from a railing exiting the museum – inside which he left his chainsaw whirring.

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