Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lonesome George: The World's Rarest Animal

He calls the Darwin Research center on the Galapagos Islands home.  Researchers have tried, without success, for years to find another of his kind.  He's Lonesome George, the only Pinta Island Turtle left. 

The area George calls home was once full of the turtles but they, like so many other animals, were killed off throughout the years.  Conservationists are trying to restore the animals and ecosystem in the area but it isn't always easy, especially in the case of George. 

Local fishermen, angry that the conservationists have moved in and are trying to save the animals and ecosystem in the area, have been protesting.  They have even gone so far as to barricade the researchers inside the Darwin Research Center and threatened to kill Lonesome George.

The fishermen aren't the only obstacle they have faced.  Researchers have been trying, without success, to get the 80 year-old George to mate.  When sperm collection proved unsuccessful, female tortoises were brought in.  That was fourteen years ago.  George seemed reluctant to mate despite having two beautiful ladies living with him.  Finally, in 2008, after 36 years in captivity, George shocked conservationists by mating for the first time.  However, the eggs laid by one of his female companions turned out to be infertile.

So, George has made progress!  Hopefully, we will shortly have the excellent news that George has once again decided to strike up a courtship with one of the ladies he lives with and there will be some little George's running around at the Darwin Research Center.  Go, George!!!

For more information:
Lonesome George, The Last Galápagos Giant Tortoise, May Become a Dad, July 22, 2009
Galápagos Giant Tortoise Saved From Extinction By Breeding Programme, June 27, 2010

A short video by BBC Worldwide about Lonesome George:


  1. Poor George, so much weighing on his shell. He just doesn't look into it, though, does he?

  2. That is a lot of pressure for one guy, isn't it? He's got a tall order in front of him, for sure.