In sad environmental news, Lonesome George, a Pinta giant tortoise believed to be the last of his subspecies, has passed away at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador. Scientists estimated that George was 100-years-old at the time of his passing, making him only middle-aged for a species that generally lives to be 200.
Found on Pinta Island in the Galapagos in 1972, a time when scientists thought the Pinta giant tortoise was entirely extinct, Lonesome George was considered to be the "rarest creature in the world" and attracted over 180 thousand visitors to the Galapagos National Park each year. A part of the park's breeding program, environmentalists had tried for decades to get him to mate with similar subspecies of tortoises, but none of the attempts were successful in producing fertile eggs.
The Galapagos were once widely populated by various subspecies of tortoises (including the Pinta giant) until the late 1800s when they were hunted for eggs and meat to the point of extinction.
RIP, Lonesome George. Hopefully, you are now with your family on a giant island in the sky, a little less lonesome.
Image via AP.