The Lion of Gripsholm Castle is a famous example of historical taxidermy gone wrong. This taxidermy project began with the arrival of a live lion in Sweden during the 18th century. It is unclear who gifted the lion to Sweden, with some sources claiming it was the “Bey of Algiers” while others suggest it was a token of appreciation from Algiers to the Swedish king, Frederick I. Nevertheless, the lion became a resident of the Royal Game Park in Stockholm.
After the lion died, its remains were sent to a taxidermist to be stuffed and mounted. However, several years had passed since the lion’s death, and all that was left were a pelt and bones. The taxidermist, who had likely never seen a live lion, did their best to create a lifelike replica, but the result was far from perfect. The Lion of Gripsholm Castle is a comical example of what a taxidermist can do to preserve an animal without ever seeing one alive.
Today, the Lion of Gripsholm Castle has found new life online. The taxidermy lion has its own Facebook page where it posts updates promoting exhibitions at Gripsholm Castle, sends greetings at holidays, and shares interesting tidbits to an ever-growing fan base worldwide. The comical nature of the taxidermy has made the lion a popular attraction for visitors to the castle.
Gripsholm Castle is located in the town of Mariefred, and visitors can easily reach it by train or car from Stockholm. Entrance prices can be found on the castle’s website. The Lion of Gripsholm Castle may not be a perfect representation of a lion, but it is undoubtedly a fascinating historical artifact and a reminder of what early taxidermy looked like.