Lonesome George Makes His NYC Debut

There’s something unsettling about taxidermy and the lifelike diaramas that I grew up seeing at museums.  But the research that goes into each zoological and botanical detail serves a monumental educational purpose for visitors and scientists alike. And in a “Last Chance to See” context, there are cases where those diaramas are the only way both current and future generations are able to have a face to face experience with extinct species.

A little over a year ago the icon of Galapagos conservation “Lonesome George” died of natural causes. Although property of the people of Ecuador, he is considered an example of World Heritage Patrimony. Researchers froze his body and shipped it to the American Museum of Natural History for preservation and a temporary exhibition in New York.

The last of his species, Lonesome George was an icon for conservation and evolution. He was found alone on Pinta Island, part of the Galápagos archipelago, in 1971—human hunting and introduced goats had destroyed his kind and his habitat. So conservationists transported the 90-kilogram (200-pound) reptile to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island. Although two females of a closely related subspecies from Isabella Island kept him company, sadly, no eggs ever successfully hatched.

After his death in June 2012 (he was believed to be at least 100 years old), researchers froze his body and shipped him to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, whose skilled taxidermists will preserved him for posterity. He will go on display at the museum in the winter before returning home to the Galápagos.

The nearly six-minute video outlines the preparation, which includes figuring out how best to pose and mount him—which is more complicated than you’d think.

Read the entire article here

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