R.I.P. George. But keep that pose
Lonesome George, the giant Galápagos tortoise whose death a year ago signified the extinction of his subspecies, is taking on a new life—as an in-the-flesh reminder of what has been lost in the natural world. George, who had been kept in deep freeze since he died, was defrosted last week at a studio here where taxidermists began preparing him for posterity, dunking his bony head and leathery feet into tubs of gel to make molds for later reference.
He will be preserved in a typical pose—on his feet with his neck raised, as if on the lookout for his staple food, cactus.
Wrapped to prevent freezer burn and further protected with pink fibreglass insulation, George arrived in a gray shipping crate with the word "PERISHBLE" misspelled on the side. After he was thawed, the taxidermists took measurements using a cloth tape and calipers.
"He's a really great-looking tortoise," said George Dante, the owner of the studio. Dante will use the original shell and will sculpture a mannequin for the limbs and neck, which he will sew the tanned skin around.