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Lonesome George tortoise to be stuffed, preserved for public view

By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   July 2, 2013 at 6:11 PM   |   Comments

July 2 (UPI) -- Lonesome George, the 100-year-old tortoise said to be the last of his kind, died unexpectedly last year at a relatively young age in the Galapagos Islands. Harvesting and the introduction of goats to the island had killed his relatives and destroyed his habitat, according to National Geographic.

A year later, George's frozen body has arrived at a taxidermy studio in the United States, where he will be stuffed and preserved for display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. After an undisclosed amount of time, he'll be sent back to his Galapagos Island home.

“George was a reminder of what we as a species are capable of doing out of ignorance," Johannah E. Barry, founder and president of the Galapagos Conservancy told The New York Times.

George's taxidermist, George Dante, explained his process to National Geographic:

Doing taxidermy on a tortoise is much like working on an elephant. There's no fur, so we have to work to preserve the skin, maintaining its natural color and texture as much as possible, sculpting the wrinkles so they are anatomically accurate. There's very little room for error.

“Poor old chap,” George's taxidermist told the Times. “You feel for him. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t.”

BBC's Simon Reeve spent time with Lonesome George before his death. Watch them meet on Reeve's 2009 visit to the Galapagos Islands at the two-minute mark in the video below:

Follow @KateStan and @UPI on Twitter.
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