The Lion Of Gripsholm Castle: 18th Century Bad Taxidermy Fail
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In 1731, the Bey of Algiers gifted King Frederik I of Sweden a live lion. When it eventually died, the king asked for it to be stuffed and preserved. The taxidermist had been given the lion’s skin and bones, but he had never seen a lion with his own eyes and had, it seems, only a loose idea of how a lion was meant to look.
The result is both unfortunate and really hilarious.
Lacking the modern conveniences of Wikipedia or Google image search, the poor taxidermist he put his best effort forth with the information at hand. In all fairness, from the side it does resemble a heraldic lion, often pictured in coats of arms by painters (who hadn’t seen a lion before, either).
From the front, however, it’s clear the taxidermist wasn’t familiar with lions (and perhaps not all that familiar with taxidermy)…
Let’s remember that it’s not the lion’s fault that it looks more like a cartoon character than the king of the jungle. This oddly charming feline friend is proof that even the most ferocious animals can become unwittingly hilarious monuments to human error.
Here’s to you, Gripsholm Lion, may your goofy grin continue to bemuse visitors for centuries to come!