Gentle Giant: The Tragedy of Lonesome George


The giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands have benefited from the captive breeding program initiated at the Charles Darwin Researched Station. The tortoises are released when large enough to defend themselves against predators.

When the Galapagos were discovered by Spanish explorers in 1535, hundreds of thousands of giant tortoises roamed the islands. (Galapago is the Spanish word for tortoise.) Survivors of prehistoric times when reptiles were of enormous size, some of the tortoises grow to four feet in length and weigh as much as 500 pounds. They may live for more than a century.

Tortoises from Pinzon and Hood islands are breeding, but there is only one of the Pinta island tortoise species left, and that's why he is called Lonesome George. Link From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by MrGhaz.

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He isn't truly the last of a *species* but rather of a subspecies, and so there is a chance of preserving some of the Pinta line via crossbreeds. He's kept in an enclosure with two females of a different subspecies but while a few clutches of eggs has shown he hasn't been quite so Lonesome anymore, none have been viable.

He may not be the last of his kind - another tortoise in a zoo in Prague is believed to be a Pinta as well. Too bad it's also a male. Another promising lead was found in the wild on Isabela Island. While it too was a male and not a purebred Pinta like George, its half-Pinta DNA may indicate a female Pinta living among the Isabela population, and at the very least shows that such crossbreeding can produce viable offspring.
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So... get a similar species female, let them have 50/50 babies, raise one of those females and breed it back with george again.
better than disapearing completely, no?
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