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Tortoise Lonesome George, last of his species, found dead

The giant tortoise species was thought to be extinct when George was found in 1972.

Lonesome George at his corral in the centre on Santa Cruz Island.
Lonesome George at his corral in the centre on Santa Cruz Island.
Image: Galapagos National Park Service

A TORTOISE KNOWN as Lonesome George who was the last known surviving member of his species of Galápagos giant tortoise has died at a tortoise centre in Ecuador.

The Galápagos National Park said yesterday that George’s long-time caretaker found the tortoise “with no signs of life” early in the morning.

Pinta Island tortoises were thought to be extinct when George was discovered on the island in 1972. He became part of the Galápagos National Park Service (GNPS) tortoise breeding programme and a conservation icon. However, various attempts to breed with George failed.

Two female Espanola tortoises (the species closest to George’s) “were with George until the end”, according to the GNPS.

His age is unknown, but he is believed to have been about 100 years old when he died.

His body is currently being held in a cold chamber to preserve it ahead of tests to determine the cause of death.

GNPS director Edwin Naula said that an international workshop aimed at restoring tortoise populations over the next decade will be held in George’s honour next month.

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