Lonseome George, a 100-year-old Pinta Giant Tortoise, was found dead this morning in his corral at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador. George is believed to be the last member of his subspecies.
The Galapagos National Park Service said in a statement:
“Early this morning, Lonesome George, the sole remaining Pinta Island tortoise and Galapagos conservation icon, was found dead in his corral at the Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.”
Boston.com reports that Lonesome George was known as the rarest creature in the world since there are no other known Pinta Giant Tortoises on earth. Environmentalists tried for decades to get George to reproduce with a similar subspecies but were unsuccessful.
Lonesome George’s age isn’t known but experts estimated that he was about 100 years old. A Pinta Giant Tortoise can live up to 200-years-old so George was considered to be a young adult.
According to the BBC, the giant tortoise was discovered on the Galapagos island of Pinta in 1972. Scientists believed that George’s subspecies was extinct so they moved him to the Galapagos National Park to find a mate. George lived with a female tortoise for 15 years and did mate but the eggs were infertile.
MSNBC reports that the tortoise population was decimated by humans, but thanks to the efforts of The Galapagos Islands National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation, the tortoise population has increased from 3,000 in 1974 to 20,000 today.
Still, Lonesome George’s death and the extinction of the Pinta Giant Tortoise, prove that there is still much more that can be done.
Edwin Naula, Director of the GNPS, stated:
“This July, the GNPS is convening an international workshop to focus on management strategies for the restoration of tortoise populations during the next ten years. The workshop will be held in honor of Lonesome George.”