It has to be tough being the last of a species. To be completely alone, surrounded by similar creatures but knowing there’s nothing else like you? That has to be pretty brutal. Such is the story of Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Tortoise in existence. George was middle-aged for a tortoise, about 100 years old, and he was the last of his kind. Now, the Pinta Island Tortoise (Geochelone nigra abingdoni) is extinct, except for stem cells saved in a fridge somewhere. Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Tortoise in the world, is dead.
“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,” said officials at Galapagos National Park in Equador, where Lonesome George has been living since his discovery in 1972. ”Lonesome George’s legacy will be an increased effort in both research and management to restore his island of Pinta and all of the other giant tortoise populations of Galapagos.”
Lonesome George was found by his caretaker, Fausto Llerena, in his enclosure on Santa Cruz Island. He was stretching towards his watering hole at the time of his death. Parki officials plan to have a necropsy to determine the creature’s true age and to explain just why an otherwise healthy tortoise would randomly drop dead with no warning.
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