Mammoths: Ice Age Giants! is over and baby mammoth Lyuba is returning home to the Shemenovsky Institute in the Yamal-Nenets region of Siberia.
Lyuba is an almost perfectly preserved mammoth baby who, despite being healthy and well-cared for (the milk remains in her stomach show she had recently suckled from her mother), met an untimely end when she fell into a quick sand-like bog or pool. That same fate however led to her being so well-preserved, frozen in the permafrost for 42,000 years.
Having been thoroughly scanned, sampled and autopsied in the name of Science, Lyuba was preserved in the same way as Lenin so that she could go on public display. The Natural History Museum was the first time she had gone on display in Western Europe.
You can see me telling CBBC’s Newsround about Lyuba & the Exhibition here.
I wasn’t there when she arrived at the NHM (I was doing publicity for the exhibition on Start the Week instead – see this post), so I missed the emotional unwrapping of Lyuba by Adrian Lister. And even though it was still pretty special to see her even through a glass case, I was frankly rather jealous. I wanted to smell her, and look at her eyelashes, and get a really close look at her exquisite trunk.
So I wangled an invite to her ‘de-install’ on September 8th. Or as I prefer to think of it, the official tucking-up of Lyuba for her journey home.
And she was indeed beautiful, lying in her travelling case amidst layers of protective padding, her eyes closed as if she really was asleep. I can tell you that she didn’t smell at all. Perhaps the faintest hint of Siberian tundra in the summertime, but I may have imagined that.