Famed Galapagos tortoise dies

2012-06-25 11:44
The body of the famed Galapagos giant tortoise Lonesome George is removed on stretcher after he was found dead in his enclosure. He was believed to be about 100 years old. (Galapagos National Park Direction, AP)

The body of the famed Galapagos giant tortoise Lonesome George is removed on stretcher after he was found dead in his enclosure. He was believed to be about 100 years old. (Galapagos National Park Direction, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Quito - The giant tortoise Lonesome George, whose failed efforts to produce offspring made him a symbol of disappearing species, was found dead on Sunday, officials at the Galapagos National Park announced.

Lonesome George was believed to be the last living member of the Pinta island subspecies and had become an ambassador of sorts for the islands off Ecuador's coast whose unique flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution.

The tortoise's age was not known but scientists believed he was about 100 - not especially old for giant tortoises which can live well over a century. Scientists had expected him to live another few decades at least.

Various mates had been provided for Lonesome George after he was found in 1972, in what proved unsuccessful attempts to keep his subspecies alive.

He lived at a tortoise breeding centre on the archipelago's island of Santa Cruz.

He was found on Sunday morning in his pen by his long-time keeper, Fausto Llerena, the park said in a statement.

Attempts were initially made to mate Lonesome George with two female tortoises from Wolf Volcano. But the eggs they produced were infertile.

Two females from Spanish island's tortoise population, the species most closely related to Pinta tortoises, were placed with him last year.

The park said the cause of his death would be investigated.

The Galapagos's giant tortoise population was decimated after the arrival of humans, but a recovery programme run by the park and the Charles Darwin Foundation has increased the overall population from 3 000 in 1974 to 20 000 today.

Read more on:    ecuador  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy

Miley's new dog is too adorable.



13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher
The unusual pets of Instagram
Bertie sets a new world record!

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Plant some seeds. Your innovative mind is on fire and your ingenious ideas may just be the seeds for future projects. You may meet...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.