Lonesome George Tortoise

The story of "Lonesome George" is a sad one for it is the story of what could become of many of our wildlife in the near future due to extinction. Lonesome George is a Pinta Island tortoise which is a subspecies of the giant Galapagos tortoise. He is considered to be the "rarest animal alive" today, according to the Guinness Book of World Records and when he dies his subspecies will become extinct.

George's subspecies was severely depleted by whalers and fishermen, and the introduction of goats in 1958 resulted in massive destruction of vegetation which these tortoises depend on for food. Until 1971, the last reported sighting of a giant tortoise on Pinta Island had been in 1906 when the Galapagos Islands were visited byscientists from the California Academy of Sciences. At that time they collected 3 males, which were the last tortoises seen on Pinta for the next 60 years. But they didn't count on George.

In 1971 a scientist who was studying snails on Pinta Island saw a solitary tortoise in the distance. He reported this to the Galapagos National Park authorities and a search was started to find the tortoise but with no luck. Then in 1972 a National Park warden found Lonesome George on the island while out on another job. He stumbled upon the solitary male tortoise and took him back to the research station.

The story of Lonesome George has traveled all around the world. Zoos have been offered a reward of $10,000 dollars for a Pinta Island tortoise female, but the reward has been unclaimed to this day. George has also been placed in a corral with female tortoises from Wolf Volcano, on Isabela Island. Scientists were hoping that by placing these tortoises together, the Pinta Island subspecies genes would be passed along to future generations.

The Wolf tortoise subspecies are morphologically the most closely related species to that of George's Pinta Island tortoise. The goal was to maintain George's sexual activity for the possibility that a Pinta female would be found in a zoo somewhere in the world. Another possibility would be some genetic back crossing to create offspring as closely related as possible to the Pinta tortoise. Unfortunately, Lonesome George has yet to succeed in breeding successfully with these females, for reasons not fully understood.

So it looks at this point that the subspecies of the Pinta Island tortoise will pass into extinction with the passing of Lonesome George. Unless a female tortoise is found soon somewhere in a zoo, the destructive hand of mankind will once again have driven a species into extinction.

VIDEO Galapagos Lonesome George: The Pinta Island Tortoise Habitat

Responses to "The story of Lonesome George - the rarest animal on Earth. (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    It breaks not only my heart, but another strand of the great web of life will be broken...I am so very sorry Lonesome George.

  2. Family says:

    We love you so much!

  3. Anonymous says:

    George I am so sorry that we have been so selfish. Although I normally do not condone collecting DNA and pulling a "Jurassic Park" thing, is this not a possible option for George?

  4. The destructive hand of mankind?

    How about the destructive hand of nature?

    Way over 90% of every species that has ever lived on Earth are extinct, at the destructive hand of nature.

    Mankind is part of nature, yes?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am so sorry George, we couldn't save your species, I always will be sorry.

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