Taxidermy used to serve a noble purpose in older times, when explorers and  naturalists preserved new species of animals they discovered with the purpose of studying them and educating the rest of the world that had little chance of ever witnessing the animals in their natural environment. In fact Charles Darwin, who is probably the world’s most famous taxidermist, has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history. 

These days however, in which most animal species have been discovered and documented and nearly every amateur zoologist has access to wild animal parks and to the internet, many consider taxidermy unnecessary and grotesque. Regardless of your opinions about taxidermy, most people would probably agree that some taxidermists go too far. The line of what’s considered “too far” might vary a bit from person to person, but generally when a piece of taxidermy stirs controversy—or even breaks laws—then it probably crosses that line.

Enrique Gomez De Molina creates haunting hybrid taxidermy combining parts of different animals. 

Two of his controversial pieces fetched a total of $100,000 at an art fair, and he offers his pieces through galleries and on the internet for prices ranging up to $80,000.

The works of this modern day Frankenstein are simultaneously mythical, creepy, and – illegal. 

To make his weird creations, he smuggled the parts of dead endangered species into the United States. 

He smuggled in the parts, skins and remains, from cobras, pangolins, hornbills, birds of paradise and orangutans from areas all over the world including Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and China.

He claims that he aimed to raise awareness with his work to the danger faced by a range of species, with his surreal pieces representing the dangers of genetic engineering and human intervention.

On the website which showcases his work he says: ‘The impossibility of my creatures brings me both joy and sadness at the same time.”

His alleged cause may be legitimate, but his methods went too far. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced 20 months in federal prison for trafficking in endangered and protected wildlife.

Trafficking in threatened and protected species, whether for personal profit or under the guise of art, is illegal. Keep that in mind next time you feel the urge to play Dr. Frankenstein.

No matter how you feel about taxidermy, this surreal story is worth sharing. Click below to show others.