Lonesome George, the giant tortoise who became the face of the Galapagos Islands conservation effort, was found dead in his corral last Sunday morning, according to a statement by the Galapagos National Park Service. He was believed to be more than 100 years old and weighed 200 pounds.
He is the last known Pinta Island giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni), and his death likely marks the complete extinction of his subspecies.
Fausto Llerena, Lonesome George’s long-time caretaker, discovered the tortoise stretched out, leaning toward his watering hole. The cause of death remains undetermined and the tortoise’s body is being held in a cold chamber to avoid decomposition before officials conduct an autopsy.
Lonesome George was found on Pinta in 1972 although Pinta tortoises were thought to be extinct. Since then, Lonesome George has been part of the Tortoise Program of the Galapagos National Park Service. Various unsuccessful efforts were made to get George to reproduce. Mind you, at a hundred I don’t think I’ll be too interested either…