Mark Benecke
Mark Benecke and his stuffed rose-ringed parakeet. Photo: Marina Weigl

Forensic scientist Dr Mark Benecke: “Cologne has masses of fantastic places”

Mark Benecke took us to visit his favourite spot in Cologne and told us what he loves about the city.

“Industry, business and exotic birds – they all come together here to form a totally unique blend. It’s something you don’t see much anymore – not even in New York.”

Those are the words of famous criminal biologist and forensic scientist Dr Mark Benecke – and he should know! He grew up in Cologne and still lives there now, currently in the city’s Südstadt district, which has been his home for the past twenty years. And, being a globally sought-after expert, he travels regularly to other countries and cities.

After gaining his doctorate in forensic science, Mark took various training programmes to expand his knowledge, including one with the FBI. Today, he works as an expert consultant, using his specialist skills to help solve violent crimes, earning him the nickname, “Lord of the maggots”.

Mark Benecke
They call him “Lord of the maggots”: Dr Mark Benecke. Photo: Marina Weigl

Although he’s lived here so long and could, so he says, find his way around blindfolded – at least in the Nippes, Zollstock and Südstadt neighbourhoods – his curiosity is never completely satisfied. “Every time I look at a side of the cathedral again, I discover something new. All those gargoyles, for instance. They’re awesome!”

Mark’s favourite place to spend time in Cologne

But his favourite place can be found on the Rheinboulevard and has to do, as you’d expect of a biologist, with the city’s fauna. Because rose-ringed parakeets flock there at night to sleep in the trees. Around 2,000 of these exotic birds live in Cologne and they’re a source of particular fascination to Benecke.

So much so that they also make an appearance in his book, Kat Menschiks und des Diplom-Biologen Doctor Rerum Medicinalium Mark Beneckes Illustrirtes Thierleben. Kat Menschik provides the wonderful illustrations for Benecke’s stories about out-of-the-ordinary creatures such as the tilapia, a fish that falls into depression when faced with matchmaking attempts with the wrong mate.

Although the forensic scientist has devoted himself to entomology, the study of insects, in Cologne it’s the rose-ringed parakeet that really gets him excited. He’s even got a stuffed one at home. In our interview, he tells us about the tree where the birds sleep and lots of other things of beauty to be found in the city.


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And because he’s such a joy to listen to, why not tune straight in to the “Köln Clash” podcast episode that brings him together with Cologne-based actor Maike Johanna Reuter.

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