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Dutch artist turns dead cat into stuffed helicopter

The Orvillecopter by Dutch artist Bart Jansen (R) flies in central Amsterdam as part of the KunstRAI art festival June 3, 2012.


How would you pay tribute to a beloved dead pet? Would you hold a funeral? Keep the cremated ashes on your mantel? Or turn the carcass into art?

Dutch artist Bart Jansen went for the latter, after his pet cat Orville was killed by a car. According to the CBC, Mr. Jansen had the body stuffed and fashioned into a radio-controlled helicopter.

The "Orvillecopter," as the creation is named, was put on display at Amsterdam's Kunstrai art festival. A YouTube video shows the project taking off on its first test flight in March, hovering shakily off the ground.

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"After a period of mourning he received his propellers posthumously," Mr. Jansen was quoted in Australia's Herald Sun as saying. "Oh how he loved birds. He will receive more powerful engines and larger props for his birthday. So this hopping will soon change into steady flight."

A second video shows an upgraded Orvillecopter, flown with greater control.

The project has received mixed reactions over the Internet.

"That's so sick!" one commenter wrote on Britain's The Sun website. "Obviously he had no love for this poor animal when it was alive. If he had he would treat it with more respect now that it is dead."

"Disgusting example of a human being!!!" wrote another.

But a few came to Mr. Jansen's defense.

As one commenter put it: "its [sic] his way of remember the cat and art is art. Modern artists experiment with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art. It is bit weird but different."

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Added another: "I think it is a fitting tribute to a cat who was loved by its owner who obviously had his head… in the clouds."

Some people certainly have an unusual way of dealing with dead pets, but does it mean they love their furry companions any less? In 2005, the Telegraph reported that a Nevada taxidermist received hate e-mails and death threats for offering a service that used the skins of people's dead pets to make pillows.

The taxidermist, Jeanette Hall, reportedly charged between $65 and $150 for the service, depending on the size of the animal. In spite of the threatening e-mails, she told the newspaper that pet owners were "thrilled" with her service.

"Most people were happy that Fluffy was still on the couch," she said.

Did this artist go too far in honouring his dead pet?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More


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