Lonesome George Dies at 100+ Years Old
In 1972, a biologist had the pleasant surprise of discovering a tortoise in the Galapagos Islands the scientific community believed to be extinct. He would come to be known as "Lonesome George," and he was the last living Pinta Island Tortoise in the world. Though efforts were made to breed Lonesome George with closely related sub species, for the past 40 years he has produced no offspring in the Tortoise Program of the Galapagos National Park Service. Consequently, with his death, the Pinta Island Tortoise is now an extinct species.
Though George did not produce any offspring, he made monumental contributions to his wildlife community. Lonesome George became the face of the Galapagos conservation movement. He inspired the Ecuadorian government to fund projects to help increase the health, safety and numbers of endangered and threatened species in the islands.
Barring a miracle, a pure Pinta Island Tortoise will never be seen again. However, genetic testing is underway to search for hybrids and subspecies carrying Pinta Tortoise genes to, in some way, help preserve this amazing species.
Lonesome George was well over 100 years old, but his care takers are still surprised at his death. The large island tortoise species found in the Galapagos can live to be almost 200 years of age. An autopsy will be performed to determine what lead to Lonesome George's death this week.
Autopsy results revealed the Lonesome George likely died from causes associated with old age. His liver was discovered to be discolored, and that perhaps contributed to his death. It is not believed that he suffered.