Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Lonesome George, the Last of the Galapagos Pinta Tortoises, Dies

By Periscope @periscopepost
Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island giant tortoises, died on June 24. Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island giant tortoises, died on June 24. Photo credit: Galapagos National Park Service

Lonesome George, the only remaining Pinta Island giant tortoise and a symbol of the Galapagos Islands, was found dead in his enclosure at Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island on Sunday. His age was unknown, but is believed to have been more than 100 years old, according to officials at Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park. The cause of his death is as yet unknown, pending an autopsy.

“It’s a sad fact, but sometimes slow and steady doesn’t win the race, even when you’re a tortoise,” said China Despain Freeman at Ecorazzi.com.

George was found on Pinta Island in 1972 and was believed then to be the only survivor of his species, after feral goats destroyed their natural habitat and humans found them easy, slow-moving prey. Attempts to breed him with female tortoises from subspecies genetically similar to the Pinta were unsuccessful and though two of those females remained George’s companions to the end, romantically speaking he lived up to his name.

George’s life and death, however, were not be in vain, the Park Service was at pains to note: “The plight of Lonesome George provided a catalyst for an extraordinary effort by the government of Ecuador to restore not only tortoise populations throughout the archipelago but also improve the status of other endangered and threatened species.” This July, the Park Service is also hosting an international workshop on management strategies for the restoration of tortoise populations during the next ten years; the workshop will be dedicated to George.

The BBC visits with George, three years ago

As of Monday, “Lonesome George” was a trending topic on Twitter

┋╭━━╮┋╱▔▔▔▔▔▔╲┋┋╭╯┅▊┃▕╳╳╳R.I.P╳╳╳╲┋╰━┳╯┃▕╳╳LONESOME╳╳╲┋┋┃╯╰━╲╳╳GEORGE╳╳╱┋┋╰━╱▔▔╲╳╳╳╳╳╳╱▏┋┋┋▕┅▕━━╲▂▂▂▂╱┅▏┋┋┋▕▂▂▏┋┋┋┋┋▕▂▂▏#TWITTERART

— ☺ns☻ (@naoshim140) June 25, 2012

#ShellShock as giant tortoise who is thought to be the last of his kind has died bit.ly/NrKm7l #LonesomeGeorge

— The Sun Newspaper (@TheSunNewspaper) June 25, 2012

I’d lose the will to live if the whole world called me Lonesome George, too. Moral: name your tortoises things like Spectacular Bernard.

— Stuart Heritage (@stuheritage) June 25, 2012

More on extinction

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  • Mass extinction imminent

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