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Historic Lion Shot by Teddy Roosevelt Being Restored for Smithsonian

Roosevelt lion
Washington Post

Teddy Roosevelt's lion is going back on display for the first time in 20 years.

After leaving office in 1909, Theodore Roosevelt didn't know what to do with the rest of his life.

But it's probably not surprising that he decided to go on an epic African hunting trip in hopes of bringing back some display animals for the Smithsonian. Now, one of these animals, a lion, is being prepared for re-display after almost 20 years in storage.

Check out the video below to see the awesome restorative work being done on this historic, 100-year-old mount.

Roosevelt shot this lion in June of 1909, and it was one of some 23,000 animal and insect specimens gathered by his expedition on that nearly year-long trip.

"The bullet went as true as if the place had been plotted with dividers," Roosevelt wrote later about the hunt. "The blow brought him up all standing, and he fell forward on his head."

Not much has changed in just over 100 years since. His expedition was hit with some criticism at the time, but Roosevelt was unapologetic about it. "I can be condemned only if the existence of the National Museum, the American Museum of Natural History and all similar zoological institutions are to be condemned," he wrote.

After 20 years in storage and 100 years since the lion last wandered the African plains, it takes a special touch to restore such an old piece of taxidermy.

"I want him to look his best," Conservator Ron Harvey told the Washington Post. "But it is 100 years old. I want to maintain that sense of history too."

The lion was eventually boxed and put into storage in the late 1990s, where it has remained until now. The current plans are for it to go on display again in spring of 2017.

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Historic Lion Shot by Teddy Roosevelt Being Restored for Smithsonian