Stuffed animals are so old hat... Natural History Museum to host Von Hagens' plastinated carcasses

Controversial German anatomist will bring his latest creations to London next year

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The Independent Culture

Skinned elephants, plastinated gorillas and preserved giraffes will form a new and peculiar exhibit the Natural History Museum will receive next year when the controversial anatomist Gunther von Hagens brings his latest creatures to the British capital.

Plans for the exhibition, Animal Inside Out, which will open in South Kensington on 6 April and run for six months, have been kept secret as the museum is aware of past opposition to Von Hagens' work. The German has been causing controversy around the world since his first show of preserved human bodies in 1995.

The exhibition of animals is currently assembled in Frankfurt, Germany and features a brown bear, octopus, gorilla, shark, ostrich, and horse.

Each corpse, human or animal, takes about a year to prepare using Von Hagens' "plastination" technique. He embalms the bodies, removes the body fat and water and then impregnates a polymer such as silicone rubber into the corpse. The body is then positioned as desired for the exhibition and hardened using gas, light or heat.

Von Hagens, 65, believes his exhibitions help people appreciate people and animals by reinforcing the study of animal biology, physiology, zoology, and veterinary studies. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and he plans to donate his corpse to be shown in future Body Worlds shows.

Von Hagens has said: "The more the individual thinks about the fragility of his or her body, the more respectful he or she will become toward other people and animals. Body Worlds of Animals makes a valuable contribution to animal welfare and to increased appreciation of endangered species."

Past exhibitions in the UK include Bodies the Exhibition at Earl's Court in 2006 and Body Worlds London, which ran at the 02 in Greenwich from October 2008 until summer 2009. Von Hagens' most controversial work remains Cycle of Life, featuring two dead bodies having sex.

Tickets are likely to cost £9 for adults, £6 children and concessions and £3 for school trips.