Did an animal die in the Palm House?
No. It just smells that way because an Amorphophallus konjac is flowering there.
A. konjac is in the same genus as Cornell’s titan arums ‘Wee Stinky’ and ‘Carolus’ (Amorphophallus titanum also known as corpse plant or corpse flower), only much smaller. A. konjac inflorescences only grow up to about 5 feet tall and are far less pungent.
But like many in the genus, this species is what’s called a carrion flower. It emits a range of chemicals mimicking the scent of dead animals to lure in flies and other insects looking for a good place to lay eggs. These insect then deliver pollen to other A. konjacs.
Flowering is brief. Conservatory greenhouse grower Paul Cooper says that while the odoriferous period of this species is a little longer than titan arums, best plan to stop by in a day or two if you want to get a whiff.