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2013-07-18. Last-of-Its-Kind Tortoise Gets Royal Treatment from Taxidermists [Slide Show].

posted Jul 25, 2013, 11:22 AM by Alan Gould
For GSS Population Growth chapter 3. Excerpt: Preserving an iconic animal like Lonesome George is all about the details. Eleanor Sterling happened to be visiting the Galápagos Islands on June 24, 2012, the day Lonesome George died. George, the last of a species of giant tortoise unique to Pinta Island, had become an iconic symbol of the struggle to conserve disappearing species. Sterling had come to the islands on conservation business, but she dropped everything when she heard that George had expired. The first thing Sterling did was put in a call to George Dante, a New Jersey taxidermist. Sterling, who directs the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Center for Biodiversity and Conservation in New York City, knew Dante from his previous work for the museum. He impressed on her the need to act quickly to protect the iconic tortoise’s body from the ravages of decay. George’s eyes and the skin, being most prominent, were particularly vulnerable. That turned out to be no easy matter on Pinta, one of the smaller and more remote islands in the archipelago. Sterling and members of Galapágos National Park Service began to search local stores for freezer plastic or some other material to wrap George in. ...Dante unwrapped George and waited for him to defrost. He and his team of four taxidermists then began to take dental alginate and silicone molds of George’s feet and head. The taxidermists then poured polyester resin into the negative molds to create three-dimensional models. The models will be used for reference throughout the six-month or so process of being stuffed and mounted.... http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=last-of-its-kind-tortoise-gets-royal-treatment-taxidermists-slide-show&WT.mc_id=SA_CAT_EVO_20130722. Sophie Guterl, Scientific American.