- (Photo: Twitter/Michele)
Lonesome George, the last giant tortoise of his kind died last year, and will be stuffed for a special display in a New York City museum.
The last of the Pinta Island tortoises was believed to have been about 100 years old at the time of his death last June.
Taxidermists at NYC's American Museum of Natural History recently received Lonesome George's frozen body and have begun carefully preserving the animal, according to the National Geographic on Tuesday.
"Doing taxidermy on a tortoise is much like working on an elephant," said lead taxidermist George Dante who is working on the project. "There's no fur, so we have to work to preserve skin, maintaining its natural color and texture as much as possible, sculpting the wrinkles so they are anatomically accurate. There's little room for error."
The painstaking process will provide future generations with an example of the rare tortoise whose subspecies has become extinct.
Lonesome George, known as the rarest creature in the world, did not have any offspring and no known individuals from his subspecies are left.
As a result, the tortoise will make its debut at the museum sometime this winter.
Although he was considered old by human standards, George died young by giant tortoise standards. The animals can live to around 200 years of age.
The tortoise had become a staple at the Galapagos National Park as well as a symbol of the islands before he was found dead by staff at the park.
Park officials said that the tortoise was found dead in his corral by his keeper of 40 years, Fausto Llerena, according to BBC at the time.
In a statement, the park said that Llerena was "unhappily surprised" to discover the creature "stretched out in the direction of his watering hole with no signs of life," reported CNN.
Lonesome George's death set off a firestorm of mourning on social media sites, with many expressing grief over the extinction of Pinta Island tortoises.
There are hopes that the Pinta Island tortoise will survive in some form: at least one first-generation descendant of the subspecies has been found at the Wolf volcano on the neighboring Isabela Island. Genetic testing has been carried out to try to find further hybrids among the population there.