Last Pinta Island tortoise Lonesome George dies
Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, has died of unknown causes.
London: Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, has died of unknown causes.
The giant tortoise was found in 1972 and was believed to be 100 years old.
Staff at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador, said that he was found dead in his corral by his keeper of 40 years, Fausto Llerena, on Sunday morning.
Park officials said that they would carry out a post-mortem to determine the cause of his death, the BBC reported.
With no offspring and no known individuals from his subspecies left, Lonesome George became known as the rarest creature in the world.
For decades, environmentalists unsuccessfully tried to get the Pinta Island tortoise to reproduce with females from a similar subspecies on the Galapagos Islands.
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.
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.
They said his body would probably be embalmed to conserve him for future generations.