Von Hagens joins chase to exhibit Bruno's body

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The Independent Online

Gunther von Hagens, the creator of "Body Worlds", has joined an increasingly macabre row about the final resting place of Bruno, the first wild bear seen in Germany for 170 years, who was shot dead by hunters. The killing was condemned by conservationists and animal lovers.

Mr von Hagens, whose exhibitions of dissected human and animal corpses have provoked worldwide controversy, has offered €10,000 (£7,000) for the rights to slice up the dead bear and display the animal in a glass case in one of his Body Worlds shows.

" I want to preserve Bruno for posterity by showing his muscle power and skeleton," Mr von Hagens told Germany's mass circulation Bild newspaper. " By cutting him into slices, I could show the path taken by the bullet and the wounded lung. I don't need the fur," he added.

The offer was the latest to emerge from a bitter dispute about Bruno's final resting place. On Monday, the bear was shot dead, ending its seven-week killing spree in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps that lead to the death of more than 35 sheep, dozens of rabbits and chickens and the destruction of a beehive.

A two-week attempt by team of specially recruited Finnish bear hunters to take the animal alive proved a failure. Bavaria finally gave hunters permission to kill Bruno, claiming that the "problem bear's" next victim could be human.

Bavaria has already planned to have Bruno's corpse stuffed and displayed alongside his predecessor - the last wild brown bear to be shot in the state in 1835 - in a glass case at the state's museum for " Man and nature" in Munich.

Roland Eichhorn, spokesman for the Bavarian Environment Minister, insisted yesterday: "In terms of teaching and serious biological research, the Munich museum is the only sensible environment for Bruno. It won't be possible for the bear to be made available for Mr von Hagen's shows, which appear to court sensation."

However, the Bavarian Alpine towns of Schliersee and Bayrischzell, close to where Bruno was shot, have also issued separate demands for the bear to be handed to them for display as a tourist attraction in their local history museums. Makus Wasmeier, a former skiing champion from Schliersee insisted that Bruno would be an ideal addition to his own agricultural and winter sports museum near the town. " Bruno would be a memorial who would make people think about how to treat their environment better," he said.

Bruno's shooting has prompted outcry from conservationists. The German and Italian environment ministers have questioned why he could not have been captured alive. The Bavarian Environment Ministry said that 43 people were planning to take Bavaria to court for allowing Bruno to be shot.