Last of its kind, over 100-yr-old tortoise dies

QUITO - Lonesome George has died, leaving the world one subspecies poorer.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 25 Jun 2012, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:45 AM

The only remaining Pinta Island giant tortoise and celebrated symbol of conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands passed away on Sunday with no known offspring, the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador said in a statement.

Lonesome George’s longtime caretaker, Fausto Llerena, found the giant tortoise’s remains stretched out in the “direction of his watering hole” on Santa Cruz Island, it said.

Estimated to be more than 100 years old, the creature’s cause of death remains unclear and a necropsy is planned. Lonesome George is being kept in a cold chamber to prevent decomposition prior to the procedure.

Lonesome George was discovered on Pinta Island in 1972 at a time when giant tortoises of his type, Geochelone nigra abingdoni, were already believed to be extinct.

Since then, the animal had been part of the park service’s tortoise programme, but repeated efforts to breed Lonesome George failed.

“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,” the park said.

In honour of Lonesome George, it said it was convening an international workshop in July.



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