Iceland’s last Great Auk damaged? Skip to content

Iceland’s last Great Auk damaged?

Hundreds of liters of hot water flooded the showroom of Iceland’s Museum of Natural History, which houses the last Great Auk in Iceland, when a pipe burst yesterday.

Fire fighters were called to the scene to remove the almost 300 liters of water which leaked into the Museum’s showroom. It is suspected that frosty temperatures caused the pipe to burst. RÚV reports.

The water that leaked into the showroom was so hot that it resembled a sauna at one point. It is feared that many of the items on display at the Museum, including the stuffed Great Auk, can’t withstand the dampness which was created by the leak.

Gudmundur Karl Halldórsson, duty officer at Reykjavík fire department, told RÚV that after removing the water, a dehumidifier will be installed, to, hopefully, prevent damage to the items in the showroom.

The Great Auk, a giant black-and-white flightless bird, also known as garefowl, used to breed in Iceland and in other northern territories, but was hunted to extinction in 1844.

In 1971 Iceland’s Museum of Natural History acquired a stuffed Great Auk at an auction in London, which is Iceland’s only stuffed Great Auk and one of few in the world.

Three weeks ago, valuable documents were destroyed by yet another leak at the Natural History Museum. Álfheidur Ingadóttir, manager of the Museum, told RÚV that these incidents show that it is time to build a new Natural History Museum in Iceland.

The building which houses the current Museum is old and considered a temporary solution. There are no sensors in the building to indicate leaks.

Rú reported this morning that the Great Auk did not suffer as much damage as earlier feared.

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