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Media Contact: 

California Science Center:
Shell Amega
(213) 744-7496

Georgina Gomez (213) 744-2679

March 29, 2005

LAPD Investigating Theft of Plastinated Fetus from BODY WORLDS 2 Exhibit
at the California Science Center

Plea to the Public to Help Determine the Whereabouts and Secure the Return of this Historical Specimen


Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the weekend theft of a plastinated specimen. The 13-week old fetus, acquired from an old anatomical collection was taken from Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS 2:The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies at the California Science Center.

The theft was announced today with a plea from Dr. Angelina Whalley, Director of the Institute for Plastination and wife of the inventor of plastination and creator of the exhibit, Dr. Gunther von Hagens. “We ask for the public’s assistance to please help determine the whereabouts and secure the return of this historical specimen. We are deeply concerned and disappointed by the theft of this invaluable and irreplaceable specimen. The fetus is a teaching treasure and educational tool which we preserved for the benefit of public knowledge,” Dr. Whalley stated.

“We are disturbed by this unfortunate incident,” Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph said, “and sincerely hope the investigation will result in the retrieval of the specimen and apprehension of the thieves. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that more than 900,000 people from throughout the United States viewed the exhibit and benefited through an increased understanding of anatomy and physiology. The exhibit also inspired people to make better choices for a healthy lifestyle. Most importantly, we want the public, which gave its tremendous support to this exhibit to help us in getting the specimen returned. If you know of any information that might help the investigation, please call the LAPD.”

The BODY WORLDS exhibits, which premiered in the Americas at the Science Center last July, were the most successful traveling exhibits in its history.

Worldwide, more than 16 million people have seen BODY WORLDS and this marks the first incident of theft associated with the exhibit. This was the first theft from any California Science Center exhibit since it’s opening in 1998.

The theft occurred in the early hours of Saturday, March 26 during the final weekend of the exhibit which officially closed at midnight on March 27. Science Center personnel are working closely with L.A.P.D. investigators. A surveillance video captured images of two suspects and police are asking the public’s help in identifying the pair. If anyone has any information leading to the specimen, please call the LAPD at 1877-LAWFULL (877-529-3855) for anonymous calls to the crime hotline.

Note to Editors: All further questions should be directed to the LAPD at 213-485-6795 for the Southwest Detective Bureau.

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