Skeleton sits in for Copenhagen's travelling Little Mermaid

Thursday 01 April 2010 21:46 BST

A skeleton briefly sat in for Copenhagen's beloved Little Mermaid, who left her spot in the harbour last week for China, the museum behind the April Fool's prank said Thursday.

"Copenhagen will be deprived of its Little Mermaid for six months, and we thought we should replace it. It's April Fools, after all!" Hanne Strager, the head of exhibitions at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, told AFP.

The replacement - which even had a skeleton fish tail - was placed in the same position as the Little Mermaid and sat in her vacant spot for two hours, to the delight of tourists.

"Half of the mermaid was built with a human skeleton, and the other with a swordfish" tail, Strager said.

"Many passers-by thought it was really funny and jumped in front of the mermaid to have their pictures taken," she added.

The real Little Mermaid statue left Copenhagen last week to be the centrepiece of the Danish pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai until October 31.

It was the first time the iconic sculpture left her perch at the entry of the Copenhagen harbour since she was placed there almost a century ago.

Her skeleton replacement was introduced to the media in a prank statement that said the Little Mermaid "had returned".

The statement claimed it was the only remaining complete skeleton of a "Hydronymphus pesci", a species said to be extinct since the end of the 17th century.

It claimed to have acquired the remains at the beginning of the 18th century, and that the only other skeleton of the specimen, in Saint Petersburg's Hermitage museum, was "not as complete as Copenhagen's" because of its missing tail.

After basking in the Copenhagen sun for two hours, the fake skeleton was returned to the museum where it would be displayed during the Easter holidays, Strager said.

The Little Mermaid statue is based on a character in an 1837 fairytale by author Hans Christian Andersen about a half-human half-fish legendary creature in love with a human.

Edvard Eriksen's 1913 sculpture, measuring 125 centimetres (50 inches) and weighing 175 kilos (385 pounds), is considered a national treasure and one of the main tourist attractions in Denmark.

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