How do we preserve the last animal of its kind? And what can we learn from his story?

Lonesome George was the last Pinta Island giant tortoise, a species of giant tortoise found in the Galapagos and made famous by the writings of Charles Darwin.

Lonesome George captivated the planet with his story. Over the course of his life, he taught us not only the tale of his own species, but he served as a reminder of our impact on this planet.

When he died from natural causes in 2012, his passing marked the end of an era. His legacy lives on though, with the help of expert taxidermists at the American Museum of Natural History.

For many, taxidermy strikes a sour chord. But as a tool for teaching and for the preservation of a species for the next generation, it is a valuable asset.

The American Museum of Natural History does some of the best taxidermy in the world. After Lonesome George’s death, they were given the task of preserving him for generations to come.

This remarkable process combines art, science, conservation, and in this case, capturing the spirit of an individual that spoke to so many.

I was fortunate enough to have met Lonesome George while visiting the Galapagos a few years before his death.

I can remember a sense of reverence from the other visitors around me. As if the tangibility of his story was a testament to the importance of conservation was somehow more powerful in his presence.

What George Taught Us…

How can we learn and grow without important reminders like Lonesome George? Preserving Lonesome George was not an act of sentimentality, it was a gift of knowledge. We cannot know the extent of the damage we have done to our planet over the years if species are lost without record.

For every George, there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of species threatened without our knowledge.

Now, though, we are able to protect habitats like never before, explore parts of the world we never dreamed of, and speak up for species before it is too late!

Like never before, we have the opportunity to change the trajectory of species loss and leave a more positive, lasting impact on our planet!

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Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge

Liesl can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

Notes:

  1. “Preserving Lonesome George Short Doc.” YouTube. American Museum of Natural History, 03 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd0D7O-S-c8>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV