The Kings Head http://www.thekingshead-london.com/ a private members bar in the heart of trendy east London, is full of dead heads, and I’m not just talking about the people who pay to go there. Though one could be forgiven for thinking this too, as whoever pays to be a member of this place thinking that it’s ok to celebrate multiple exotic animals stuffed and hung around the place is beyond me. Of course I didn’t know about this before I went as someone’s guest late one evening.
I had only just walked into the main floor bar, waiting to order drinks, when I looked up and saw a fully grown male tiger, stuffed, posed, and apparently jumping over the bar in front of me! At first I thought this must be a joke, who in their right minds would have a real tiger on display like this? In a worldly and educated city like London, where most people realise that tigers are highly endangered, and that it’s mostly the Chinese and Americans who champion owning them as status symbols and exotic pets?
But no, it was unmistakably real. Dead, but real. My mind was reeling and it was then that my friends noticed why my face had drained of all it’s colour. They were deeply apologetic and suggested we go, however I decided to stay and investigate what this place was all about and to document what else was hung on walls here, for the purpose of this blog. And believe me, I didn’t give one more penny to that bartender and left as quickly as I could!
I took my drink and walked up 2 flights of stairs, peeking into the various rooms which are described on their website as “fantastical private rooms.” What I saw was horrifying to me, yet no one else there seemed to be taking any notice. The heads of exotic rare species were mounted on nearly every wall inside the 4 storey building; with some rooms containing full sized stuffed polar bears, jaguars, apes, tigers, bears, lions, complete with swans and tropical birds ‘flying’ across the ceilings. As I made my way downstairs to the basement club where a dj was pounding out the tunes, my eyes landed on a large dead ape holding a machine gun over the dance floor.
In total I counted 1 white tiger head and 1 Bengal tiger head both mounted on wood, and 2 full sized stuffed tigers amongst all of the other beautiful animals there.
I know people say “well they were dead already”, or “this fur is vintage so it’s ok to wear it”, or “it was my grandmothers’, I’d never buy one of course!”. But in my opinion, and this blog is only my opinion, fur is fur. If you’re celebrating it on a wall, on a stuffed trophy of an animal, on your coat or bag or fur-lined boots, it was still once, a living breathing animal. And you are saying it’s ok to show it off, because now it’s dead. The thing is, if we all did that we’d be contributing to the mass slaughter of more and more animals, because of supply and demand. It really does not matter that those beautiful stuffed creatures were dead and bought as decorative purposes for the Kings Head. The message is still saying we think dead animals are cool, and so should you.
Well, I don’t. And my friends and I will never go back there, or anywhere that thinks trophy animals are cool. Conservation is cool.