LONDON — Dippy the dinosaur is being retired from London's Natural History Museum — and his fans aren't happy.
The museum announced Thursday that the 85-foot (26-meter) plaster skeleton, which has been on display for more than a century, will be replaced in the main hall by the skeleton of a blue whale.
Dippy is a plaster replica of a diplodocus, a dinosaur that lived in North America 150 million years ago.
The original was unearthed in Wyoming in 1899 and is housed at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gave Britain the plaster copy in 1905 after a request from King Edward VII.
Dippy will remain on display until 2017, when a real 83-foot (25-meter) whale skeleton will replace it. Natural History Museum director Michael Dixon said the change was part of a 10-year overhaul of the museum, "focusing on the real and authentic."
"Much loved as Dippy is, he's a plaster cast replica of a diplodocus, and one of a number around the world," Dixon said.
The news drew protest from Britons who recalled childhood visits to the museum. Some expressed outrage on Twitter using the hashtag #savedippy, and an online petition called for the dinosaur to be spared.
"Nothing can quite capture the imagination of children in the same way that dinosaurs do," said children's author James Mayhew, whose book "Katie and the Dinosaurs" was inspired by a visit to the museum.
"I would like to think there's a chance that they might reconsider" the skeleton's fate, he said. "It's a London landmark."
The museum said it was looking into the possibility of sending Dippy on tour.