Giant Tortoise Lonesome George Passes Away in Ecuador
A sad day at Galapagos National Park in Ecuador as the giant tortoise Lonesome George, the last remaining giant tortoise of his subspecies, died this weekend. Scientists estimate that Lonesome George was over 100 years old, and many attempts to get him to reproduce over the last several decades have all failed. Lonesome George was first seen by a Hungarian scientist in 1972 on the Galapagos Island of Pinta.
From the BBC:
While his exact age was not known, Lonesome George was estimated to be about 100, which made him a young adult as the subspecies can live up to an age of 200.
Environmentalists had believed his subspecies (Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni) had become extinct.
Lonesome George became part of the Galapagos National Park breeding programme.
After 15 years of living with a female tortoise from the nearby Wolf volcano, Lonesome George did mate, but the eggs were infertile.
He also shared his corral with female tortoises from Espanola island, which are genetically closer to him than those from Wolf volcano, but Lonesome George failed to mate with them.
He became a symbol of the Galapagos Islands, which attract some 180,000 visitors a year.
Galapagos National Park officials said that with George’s death, the Pinta tortoise subspecies has become extinct.
He was found dead by his keeper of over 40 years, Fausto Llerena, and his body will most likely be embalmed to conserve him for future generations to view.
Lonesome George will be sorely missed.
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