Local Miami beach artist, Enrique Gomez De Molina plead guilty to charges of wildlife smuggling on Tuesday. De Molina who has made a name for himself with his unusual and often titillating taxidermy style sculpture was accused by Federal prosecutors of importing a range of protected species animal parts. In court papers filed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, he bought pangolins, a king cobra, skulls of hornbilled birds including an extremely rare Himalayan Monala, a woolly stork and orangutan skulls among others. All imported from Indonesia, Bali, Thailand, the Phillipines and China. These countries do not put the same value on protected species and have made it easy for smugglers to obtain wildlife for eating, collecting or as artwork.
”I guess I wasn’t a serious taxidermist. I like to play around and mix and match my own species. I guess I like to play God.” said De Molina in an interview with Thrillist. De Molina mixes and matches animal parts to create his unusual pieces that sell upwards of $80,000. Born in Cuba, he learned his trade from his father, a taxidermist who worked for the Miami Museum Of Science, and encouraged his kids to be creative.
Under an international treaty that strictly regulates the wildlife trade, protected animals or animal parts may not be imported without a permit from the country of origin and declarations to U.S. Customs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sentencing is on March 2, 2012. He faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
“The impossibility of my creatures brings me both joy and sadness at the same time. The joy comes from seeing and experiencing the Fantasy of the work but that is coupled with the sadness of the fact that we are destroying all of these beautiful things.” said de Molina has of his work.