As a fitting homage and send-off for Lonesome George, the world’s last giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands, the American Museum of Natural History has launched a special exhibition centered around his life. The last member of his species and an international symbol of biodiversity conservation, George sadly passed away on June 24, 2012. However, thanks to the special talents of master taxidermists, his legacy is being celebrated at the Natural History Museum from September 19th, 2014 until January 4th, 2015.
In 1997, Lonesome George was discovered during a scientific expedition to the island of Pinta, part of the Galapagos Islands. It had been previously believed that all tortoises on the island had been exterminated by whalers and seal hunters, so the endearing animal’s fame rose quickly through the scientific community. When researchers discovered that the large tortoise was the last of his species, Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni, he was moved to the height of research luxury at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on Santa Cruz Island.
Although various attempts were made to encourage George to reproduce, he rejected all female suitors, remaining “lonesome” until his last dying day. Although the famous tortoise chose a solitary lifestyle and was not able to pass his genes onto the next generation, he became a symbol of conservation, with many blaming his reclusive state on Man’s negative impact on the environment.
At the time of his death in 2012, George was thought to be around 100 years old. Now, after a taxidermic makeover, the American Museum of Natural History will showcase the famous tortoise in all of his glory, posed naturally with neck and limbs extended from his distinctive “saddleback” shell.
George will be on display at the American Museum of Natural History from September 19th until January 4th, 2015.
RIP, big guy.