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Lonesome George
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    (circa 1912-June 24, 2012)
    Born in Pinta Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
    Pinta Island tortoise (also known as Abingdon Island tortoise), a subspecies of Galapagos tortoise
    Relocated to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island (1972)
    Believed to have been the last known individual of its subspecies
    Died at an estimated age of 100
    He was named after a George Gobel character.
    He was nicknamed 'the Galapagos' most eligible bachelor.'
    Researchers tried to get him to mate with females of related subspecies so at least his genes could be preserved in his offspring.
    He twice knocked up females from the Wolf Volcano subspecies, but the resulting eggs were unviable.
    Attempts to mate him with females from Espanola Island (a more closely related subspecies and, thus, one hopefully more likely to result in fertile eggs) were unsuccessful.
    There may be a couple of other surviving Pinta Island tortoises, so he may have become famous under false premises.
    His subspecies was driven to extinction by feral goats that destroyed Pinta Island's vegetation.
    A campaign to exterminate the goats was completed in 2004. (Too bad they didn't finish it before they were down to one damn tortoise.)
    One article about the attempts to breed him sported the mocking headline, 'Lonesome George's first sex act in decades ends in disappointment.' (Sure, laugh now, Mr. Reporter. But just wait til you're trying to do it in your 90s.)
    There may still be some hope for the subspecies: a male tortoise named Tony at the Prague Zoo may be a Pinta Islander, and a DNA analysis of tortoises near Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island found several Pinta Island hybrids, suggesting that a Pinta Island tortoise may be living there.
    He became a symbol of conservation efforts in the Galapagos.

Credit: C. Fishel

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