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Hope For Lonesome George: Last On A Dying Breed

by | 2nd, May 2007

lonesome_george-isla_santa_cruz.jpgLONESOME George is a Galapagos giant tortoise. He is believed to be the only example of his species left alive in the world. His death will bring about the extinction of his kind. Cited in the Guinness Books of Records as the most endangered creature on the planet, Lonesome George has become a conservation icon.

In 1971 he was discovered on the remote island of Pinta, from which tortoises had supposedly been exterminated. He has been in captivity ever since, in the hope that some ingenious scientist will conjure up a way for him to reproduce and resurrect his species.

Meanwhile, a million tourists and dozens of baffled scientists have looked on as George shows not a jot of interest in two female tortoises from another island put into his enclosure more than 15 years ago.

But there is hope yet for Lonesome George – new research indicates that George might not be quite so alone…Another tortoise, with half its genes in common with him has been found . ..

The world’s leading expert on Lonesome George, Dr Henry Nicholls said:

“This is an extraordinary discovery that injects new hope into Lonesome George’s incredible life story. It’s certainly the best news he’s had in his long lifetime. Let’s hope that someone stumps up the cash to mount an expedition to locate this individual and other tortoises of Pinta ancestry.”

“It’s so exciting to think we could be on the verge of finding some tortoises that are suitable for Lonesome George. For the past 15 years, he’s been couped up with two females from another island and has shown only passing interest in sex. Lonesome George has been written off as infertile or maybe even gay. He’s certainly inexperienced, but the discovery of more closely related tortoises might just be what’s needed to nudge him into reproductive action.”

That said, “A successful captive breeding programme involving Lonesome George is still a very long way off. If it turns out there are more animals of Pinta ancestry, they will need to be located on the volcano and brought into captivity. Even then, there’s no guarantee they will suit George, as they will almost certainly be hybrids and not full-blown Pinta animals. But if they do and breeding were successful, it would still be an immense challenge to establish a viable population of this critically endangered species. There is still hope though.”



Posted: 2nd, May 2007 | In: Reviews Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink