How many hogs does it take to cleanse a whale?
No, it's not a Zen koan. The glorious Victorian temple to murdered animals that is the Natural History Museum is cleaning up the whale exhibit in its Large Mammals Hall - using hog hair bristle brushes!
But why hog hair brushes? There are many reasons, but mostly it's because using tiny, peculiar implements to clean the largest animals on Earth looks really impressive and scientifical. Tedium is an oft overlooked, but very, very important element of science, you know. In fact, the NHM was pushing for a cleaning using only shrew tails manipulated by the teeth of cocaine addicts pulled off the streets. But this plan was deemed to costly.
Also hog hair probably has some silly preservationist benefit or something we can't be bothered to research.
It certainly would have been far cooler if they used scrubbing brushes made of whale balleen. Or buffing cloths fashioned from bits of Charles Darwin's waistcoats.
It seems likely that under no circumstances will water be allowed anywhere near the whales.
The center of the museum's Whale Hall is dominated by a ceiling-suspended blue whale model a mere 27m long, not made not of actual whale. The model was built in 1938, making it younger than many blue whales, who are supposed to live up to 80 years.
The blue whale is the largest animal on Earth - or anywhere else in the solar system as far as we know.
The museums shiny clean Whale Hall will be again available for public soiling in July.