Lonesome George, famed Galapagos tortoise, dies

I met Lonesome George about ten years ago when I was on the Galapagos Islands.  He was inside the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz Island.  It is sad to think that he was the last of his kind and now he is gone.

QUITO, Ecuador— 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, who 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 center on the archipelago’s island of Santa Cruz. He was found Sunday morning in his pen by his longtime keeper, Fausto Llerena, the park said in a statement.

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

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

via Lonesome George, famed Galapagos tortoise, dies – latimes.com.


  1. Of course all living beings go through this process – so why am I especially sad about George? perhaps because it’s something of a small fight against the odds when non-human beings have the chance to live out their full life expectancy. I’d think meeting old George would be equal to meeting a King.


    1. We do not witness a species go extinct that often, so I am sure that has a lot to do with it. Sadness. A sense of responsibility. A reminder of our own mortality.

      He was treated like a king there too. He ate heads of lettuce like a beast.


      1. No thank you. I agree, our superiority extends so far as to not only pushing species to extinction, but also bring ones back from the edge of extinction. Is that good stewardship or just exercising ultimate superiority?


      2. I think any time we screw around with nature, there are negative consequences – in the long term. But then again, minds greater than my own on this subject would surely disagree and it gets into that curious region where science becomes opinion.


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