Preserving Lonesome George

Museum scientists and a master taxidermist describe the painstaking process—part art, part science–of preserving Lonesome George, the famous Pinta Island tortoise who died in 2012 in the Galapagos Islands. As the last known survivor of the tortoise species Chelonoidis abingdoni, Lonesome George served as a global icon of conservation—and a reminder of the urgent need to address ever-increasing extinctions. After a limited time on view at the Museum Lonesome George returns to Ecuador as part of that nation’s patrimony.

The Lonesome George exhibit is on view in the Astor Turret on the Museum’s fourth floor from September 19, 2014, through January 4, 2015. Learn more about the exhibition:


“Indigo” by Guillermo De La Barreda, Tomas Jacobi, and Nicholas Berry/
Warner Chappell Production Music
“Early Fog Lifter” by Ken Lewis, Scott Dente and Matt Stanfield/
Warner Chappell Production Music
“Viaje Por Carretera” by Alex Wilson/
Warner Chappell Production Music
“Moving South” by Alexander Salter/
Warner Chappell Production Music

Alberto Ludena

George A. Dante, Jr.
Roelant Savery

AMNH/C. Chesek
AMNH/D. Finnin
AMNH/R. Mickens
Ole Hamann
Alizon Llerena
Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures/Corbis
Galapagos Conservancy
Galapagos National Park
James Gibbs
Charles Shelby

AMNH/J. Bauerle
AMNH/E. Chapman
AMNH/L. Stevens
Galapagos Alvear

Lonesome George is presented in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park Directorate and Galapagos Conservancy.

Courtesy of Cecilia Alvear

19 Responses to Preserving Lonesome George

  1. MimiMadness94

    This isn't what I imagined when I clicked this video. I find taxidermy to be a disturbing practice.

  2. Grant Wagner

    This is what humans do

  3. Praise

    Lonesome George, I never cried but I did enjoy his presence watching him just walk around being a good old turtle. I mean I know most of you are faking being sad but hell I did enjoy his fairly relaxing attitude.

  4. KingIceHunter

    Are we sure some dinosaurs like the "Long necks" weren't actually big turtles without a shell? Some turtles have soft shells and some no shells at all.

  5. Shara The Fluffy

    He should be put into the museum, named as "Lonesome George, the most beautiful tortoise that ever lived."

  6. Coffee Jack

    Instead of waiting for him to die of old age they should've tranquilized him and taken a sperm sample of George. If it was intact transfer to female tortoise.
    All i heard after his death was "He wouldn't procreate with the females"
    No other reason for this approach given.
    And now all we have left is a shell and some patches of skin.
    Great job.
    Find someone suited for the task next time so that we avoid more extinctions due to the errors of imbeciles.

  7. HuskSky

    Lonesome George 🙁 will be remembered

  8. Nephila Edulis

    Do they at least have his DNA in samples of scales or blood they may have taken? I really hope they do.

  9. Jeffrey Goff

    Thanks everyone who helped take care of LG before and after his death. R.I.P may you find lots of female shell in turtle heaven.

  10. shredder

    They found some pinta tortoises that are mixed breed on wolf island. They are currently breeding them to filter out the non pinta genes.

  11. Ican FeeLIt

    they still didn't clone him? that's dumb. they could make the eggs any sex with hormons

  12. Hector Diaz

    Not not preserve him for cloning etc. Similar to the Tasmanian Tiger. Not taxidermy.

  13. Ravindran Arumugam

    Only death brings perspective to life itself, what a sad story

  14. Natalie B

    to all those saying, "we should have mated him with a female" they probably would have done but there were no more giant tortoises of his kind… they could have mated him with another giant tortoise but the baby would have only been half of lonesome George's species.. he was the last of THAT SPECIFIC species

  15. Icicletheangeldragon

    Btw is this museum in New York beacause I'm going there soon and I want to see George

  16. Icicletheangeldragon

    Poor George the last of his kind and he only had him self and some people

  17. thuzan117

    RIP lonesome george

  18. Kenneth Reyes

    If only george mated with one of the females… His species would have propbably been saved, I hope they got his DNA and put it into a egg..

  19. Jared Evans

    Maybe he's asexual.

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