The National History Museum in London has a new star attraction in the form of "Hope" the blue whale. The 83-foot skeleton is set to replace the much-loved "Dippy" the dinosaur as the centerpiece for the museum's revamped atrium.
The unveiling was made during the museum's gala on Thursday, July 13. Famous British personalities attended the event such as conservationist David Attenborough and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
The London museum made headlines in 2015 when it announced that it will replace Dippy as its main attraction. The dinosaur remains had been on display for more than 100 years and had gained considerable popularity among museumgoers.
Fans of Dippy tried to block the museum's plan by launching a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #savedippy. They also managed to collect some 14,000 signatures in support of their cause.
However, the National History Museum said replacing Dippy with Hope could help raise people's awareness on how they can impact nature. Blue whales, such as Hope, are known to be the largest animal ever to live on Earth, yet they have been hunted by humans to near extinction.
Michael Dixon, director of the London museum, said the massive whale display would serve as a powerful reminder to people of the fragility of life as well as their responsibility of taking care of the planet.
Dixon pointed out that making Hope the centerpiece in the atrium shows how the National History Museum can also become a "museum of the future."
Hope had been a part of the museum's mammals section, though it was not fully in view of visitors. It will now be on display in the cathedral-like Hintze Hall, which was built in the late 19th century.
The remains were those of a blue whale believed to have been stranded on the coast of Ireland in 1891.
As for Dippy, the London museum plans to preserve the replica dinosaur skeleton by encasing it in a bronze cast. It will then be placed outside of the building, where fans of can still marvel at the 100-year-old display.
The Plight Of Blue Whales
During the 1800s, as many as 250,000 blue whales populated the world's oceans. However, the introduction of commercial whale hunting caused their numbers to drop significantly over the next few decades.
The 1960s saw the population of blue whales pushed to near extinction, with only 400 of the massive creatures left in the ocean. The implementation of protective laws against hunting has helped bring back the animals' numbers to about 20,000 whales.