Lonesome George....A Strange Tortoise
Lonesome George (Spanish: Solitario Jorge) is the last known individual of the Pinta Island Tortoise (Geochelone nigra abingdoni) which is one of eleven extant subspecies of Galápagos tortoise, all of which are native to the Galápagos Islands. He has been labeled the rarest creature in the world, and is a potent symbol for conservation efforts in the Galápagos and internationally. It is thought that he was named after a character played by Americanactor George Gobel.
George was first seen on the island of Pinta on 1 December 1971 by American malacologist Joseph Vagvolgyi. The island's vegetation had been devastated by introduced feral goats, and the indigenousG. n. abingdoni population had been reduced to a single individual. Relocated for his safety to the Charles Darwin Research Station, George was penned with two females of a different subspecies, but although eggs have been produced, none has hatched.
George is estimated to be 60–90 years of age, and is in good health. A prolonged effort to exterminate goats introduced to Pinta is now complete and the vegetation of the island is starting to return to its former state.
The presence of mixed race Pinta ancestry tortoises around Wolf Volcano, on neighbouring Isabela island, suggests the recent presence of at least one Pinta individual near Wolf Volcano. A possible purebreed Pinta candidate, male and dubbed "Tony", lives in a Prague zoo.
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